The American health care system remains the worldwide standard for quality care, physicians produced, and research. One of the obvious reasons for this reputation is the commitment to excellence evidenced in the facilities cooperated by medical schools. These facilities can include research laboratories, medical education buildings, imaging center, and vivariums. The medical school of tomorrow uses the latest in technology, energy conservation, and facility design to attract and educate both physicians and scientists.
Current trends in research laboratories emphasize open spaces, interdisciplinary research, shared core resources, collaboration opportunities, translational medicine, and sustainability. The competition for researchers and their grants greatly influences the interior design of these facilities away from the concrete block caverns of the 1970s to the current look of expansive glass, daylit spaces, terraced ceilings, movable casework, and technologically advanced meeting rooms. One aspect that has remained constant is the need for mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems to be dependable workhorses – economically providing safe, reliable, and maintainable conditions for the performance of research. Lighting and lighting controls for the modern teaching classroom/teaching laboratories require an interface with classroom audio-visual systems. Achieving adequate lighting levels and energy conservation requires creative design when meeting energy codes and LEED requirements.
All medical schools include educational facilities that are designed to suit the school’s medical curriculum. These facilities typically include teaching laboratories, lecture halls, libraries, simulation centers, clinical skills assessment centers, anatomy laboratories, teaming areas, lounges, and offices. Mechanical systems serving medical education buildings must maintain specific comfort conditions under varying occupant loads. State-of-the-art medical education buildings require integrated power, telecommunications and audio-visual to provide advanced classroom features such as high definition display systems, distance learning, and unified control and resource management.
Over the past two decades, the development and refinement of noninvasive imaging procedures has substantially improved the quality of medical care. Among these procedures are magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), and computer tomography (CT). The leading medical schools are making substantial investments in imaging equipment to enhance research and improve health care. This equipment requires conditioned power, special lighting, process cooling water, compressed gasses, and proper environmental conditioning to remain operational. Occasionally, the decision is made to serve the imaging equipment and building support systems by an emergency power system.
Medical research relies heavily upon biological models in the form of laboratory animals. These animal populations are maintained in highly specialized holding facilities. In the past two decades, the most prevalent animal population has been transgenic mice. The increased use of transgenic mice has led to the advent of barrier facilities, individually ventilated microisolator cages, and robotic cage wash equipment. These vivarium features require the support of specialized mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems to keep the animals safe, capable of reproduction, and viable to the research. For these types of facilities, security access control for researchers and students is imperative.