Project Info

  • Client National Institutes of Health
  • Location Bethesda, MD

Animal Research Facility/Vivarium, Building 10

The project consisted of the renovation of 1,700 sf of animal holding and research space in Building 10 on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Bethesda, Maryland, campus. The renovation space accommodates National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s (NIAAA) Division of Intramural Clinical and Biological Research. Dr. Heilig’s (Chief of the Laboratory of Clinical Studies) and Dr. Thorsell’s (Principal Investigator) research focuses on the neural mechanisms underlying motivation and emotion, with special emphasis on the stress response and anxiety, and on the neurobiological basis of drug and alcohol dependence. This facility houses rodents for a two-three month time period.
The rooms (3C12, 3C127, 3C127A, 3C127B, 3C127C, 3C127D, 3C133, 3C133A and 3C133B) in Building 10 allocated for the NIAAA Animal Research Facility Renovation is located in the 3C corridor. The GES team consulted with Dr. Heilig and Dr. Thorsell on how they visual the spaces and the adjacencies between the spaces with the facility. The programming included the functional space requirements and relationships, staffing, organization, and special needs of the animal researching conditions. The most challenging aspect of the project was accommodating the required number of specialized rooms within the allocated space, while minimizing the extent of the renovation. The program required space for rodent surgery, animal holding, and behavioral testing and analysis.

The surgery suite was designed precisely to accommodate a tissue collection area and two spaces for surgery. Animal holding rooms required sophisticated light controls to allow individual operation: One room designed for a regular diurnal light-cycle, while the other room was designed on a reverse light-cycle. In addition, preventing “bleeding” light from the main corridor was a special concern which had to be addressed to ensure the circadian rhythms of the rodents could be manipulated independently from the corridor lighting cycle.

Two specialized behavioral testing rooms were designed for the researchers’ specific research tasks. One room holds a Noldus swim tank and a rodent maze, with sensitivity to the placement of various lighting types and video camera placement to ensure testing subjects do not recognize orientation based on physical cues from the built environment. The second testing room holds operant chambers for ethanol self-administration, conflict testing, and locomotor activity.

Another challenge on this project was the design of the HVAC system. The vapor chambers, where the rodents were intoxicated via ethanol vapor, had to be coordinated with the room air supply. The system needed to prevent the latent build-up of high concentrations of ethanol in the room with the researchers and dilute it enough to directly exhaust the ethanol from the vapor chambers.

Another challenge on this project was the design of the HVAC system. The vapor chambers, where the rodents were intoxicated via ethanol vapor, had to be coordinated with the room air supply. The system needed to prevent the latent build-up of high concentrations of ethanol in the room with the researchers and dilute it enough to directly exhaust the ethanol from the vapor chambers.