Case Study

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Laboratory Transforming a Business Park Site into a Cutting-Edge FDA Lab

Lenexa, Kansas

The Challenge

Real estate investment trust Easterly Government Properties and contractor Lusardi Construction needed HKS to transform a modest office and warehouse building in a Kansas suburb into a state-of-the-art Food and Drug Administration laboratory. The firm had to follow a government-issued program of requirements, lease provisions and the strict National Institutes of Health Design Requirements Manual.

The Design Solution

The laboratory spaces include a specialty clean room suite with polypropylene casework and fan filters in the cleanable ceilings to test for trace metals in products. The mycotoxins area tests for toxic fungus. The sample kitchen features prep areas where food is cooked and tested for contaminants. Another set of labs tests products for pesticides. This facility also examines dietary supplements to check for active pharmaceutical ingredients, or APIs, and is the national servicing center for FDA’s Total Diet Study, an ongoing surveillance program that monitors nutrients and contaminants in the average U.S. diet.

The office spaces range from sliding-glass private offices and cubicle workstations to the data reduction areas where the scientists have space to write up their findings, study and relax. Working with a modest budget, the HKS design team incorporated clean, minimal design concepts with subtle hints of color to keep the environment calming and focused. By incorporating bench seating, slat-wood ceilings and an island bar in the break room, the design provides communal spaces for collaboration and informal interaction.

HKS expanded the building as much as possible while providing enough parking for building occupants. It was a balancing act that resulted in a building 59,690 square feet (5,545 sm) in size, including laboratories, office space and additional support space, along with a loading dock and the associated mechanical space and chiller yard. The design team incorporated a mechanical penthouse for additional equipment and Phoenix valves for the proper pressurization of laboratories. Laboratory users helped validate the program of requirements throughout the renovation, describing workflows and other factors that would make their processes work more smoothly.

The Design Impact

As the central lab for the Total Diet Study, the FDA Lenexa lab is the agency’s central resource responsible for planning, processing, and analyzing more than 1,100 samples representing 280 food items annually, including infant and toddler foods.

HKS’ approach of bringing the developer, contractor and the end users together on multiple occasions to discuss priorities ensured stakeholder alignment with design decisions. This open, honest dialogue led the design team to discover the mathematical discrepancies between the square footage as described in the program of requirements and what was actually needed for the users to do their jobs effectively. That allowed the design team to pivot and provide solid, purposeful and rigorous design ideas to meet the FDA’s actual program requirements.

Project Features

  • 59,690 square feet (5,545 sm)
  • Pesticide and industrial chemical analysis
  • Elemental analysis clean rooms
  • Mycotoxin analysis
  • Dietary supplement analysis
  • Total Diet Study