Education

Iowa State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

Ames, IA

Opened in 1976, the Iowa State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL) has been housed within the College of Veterinary Medicine buildings. As their caseloads have grown – currently processing over 100,000 diagnostic cases per year and 1,500,000 diagnostic assays – VDL leadership identified they lacked the flexible laboratories, staff work areas, and collaborative office space needed to continue supporting their staff and operations.

In 2019, Iowa State University sought out a team to conceptualize a new facility for the VDL. They had clear goals of being state-of-the-art and on the leading edge of diagnostic services to the global agricultural industries. INVISION partnered with Perkins + Will, IMEG and Snyder and Associates to provide bridging document design services for the new stand-alone facility.

The importance of innovative laboratory design stands at the forefront of design. High-quality facilities, serving researchers’ functional and aesthetic needs, correlate with high-quality research. The design team’s value-forward design strategies sought to maintain and recruit talent, support innovation growth and accommodate change over time. Open-concept, flexible laboratories, collaborative office areas, enhanced logistical support space, biosafety and bio-security concerns and containment were drivers throughout the design.

Kerry Weig
Managing Architect

Defining a building both programmatically and in highly technical terms for a future design-build team offers a unique challenge for design teams. Creating flexible documentation for design-build teams to offer competitive proposals and maintain university standards plus the inherent needs to support the rigorous work on the ISU Veterinary Medicine campus required a custom process. INVISION created a clear planning strategy for the VDL team and went to work executing the plan. The process included intensive site verification, researcher shadowing, tours, peer analysis, and collaborative planning sessions with administration, VDL leadership and each of the 15 sections of the lab.

The result was a fine-tuned document outlining processes and procedures, building guidelines, programming expectations, materiality requirements, sustainability goals, energy analysis and system guidelines that allowed the university to select from highly qualified teams to move forward with design and construction of the building. The planning efforts gave ISU Veterinary Medicine confidence in their decision making to plan for the expected project costs, and to suggest competitive alternatives that met their future growth needs.