Seltersberg Biomedical Research Center, Giessen | Germany

Customer: Hessisches Baumanagement Regionalniederlassung Gießen

Architect: Behles & Jochimsen Gesellschaft v. Architekten BDA mbH, Berlin

Net costs, building services €: 12,000,000.00

Project period: 2005 until 2012

Services: Planning and monitoring, heating ventilation and air-conditioning systems, cooling systems, cooling rooms, building automation systems

As its unusual floor plan and brightly colored facade immediately suggest, the new facility for the Seltersberg Biomedical Research Center (Biomedizinisches Forschungszentrum Seltersberg  ̶  BFS) in Giessen  is a special structure. With floor space of some 13,600 square meters, it contains about 125 laboratories, as well as offices, two auditoriums and additional facilities for instruction and study. Outwardly, the various parts of the building are sheathed in colored anodized aluminum elements. In combination with the basic flow-form of the overall complex, the colored, scaled facade provides an indication of the complex range of ways in which the structure is to be used, with various institutes and research groups of Justus Liebig University (University of Giessen) teaching and conducting research interdisciplinarily.

The building's various parts are grouped around a common atrium that extends throughout all of the structure's upper stories and functions as a center for communication and encounters. The ground floor, with auditoriums, small classrooms, lab rooms and a cafeteria, is reserved primarily for teaching purposes. The upper stories house laboratories and offices for researchers.

The building's heating and cooling needs are met via the district heating network of the local municipal utility, Stadtwerke Gießen (SWG). Each building "finger" is equipped with its own ventilation units for laboratories and auditoriums. In the interest of energy efficiency, all such units are equipped with highly efficient heat recovery systems that are integrated within a common circulation system. Along with the customary special ventilation systems required for source extraction and 24h air exhausting, the structure is equipped with special systems for exhaust air from isotopes and viral cultures.

The building also houses a laboratory animal facility, with attached S1 and S2 research areas. To ensure that test series are not unduly influenced, all externally based contamination of laboratory animals must be prevented. Furthermore, no untreated exhaust air from that area  ̶  especially air from S2 facilities  ̶  must be allowed to reach the environment. For those reasons, intake and exhaust air passes through sophisticated filtering systems, a special pressurization concept is applied, and all ventilation systems are in place with 100% redundancy. To ensure that the stringent applicable requirements relative to tightness and material durability are fulfilled, all ventilation channels are made of stainless steel, and all their seams have been welded on site. All pertinent filter and control systems are located outside of the actual experimental areas, to provide independent access for maintenance and operation.

The requirements applying to the ventilation systems for the S3 area are even more stringent. That area is kept permanently underpressurized with respect to surrounding areas, and it can be accessed solely through airlocks. All persons who enter the area are required to change their clothes in the process. Because of the requirements applying to the gas-tightness of pertinent room enclosures, all wiring and cabling leading into and out of the area passes through gas-tight feedthroughs. The underpressure is continually monitored and adjusted via the ventilation system. The relevant exhaust air is passed through special filter units within the S3 area.

The structure's electron microscopy facilities are another special aspect. The microscopes, which are cooled in part via liquid nitrogen, have special requirements pertaining to dehumidification of incoming air. Those requirements are met with special chillers equipped with direct evaporators that keep key-surface temperatures low. A displacement-ventilation system, using cloth outlets in combination with a special air-circulation concept, ensures that air speeds remain very low as required, in spite of the heat loads prevailing in the microscope rooms. In two rooms for confocal microscopes, the prevailing high heat loads are countered with air-recirculation cooling units, of a design originally developed for recording studios.

Images 1 until 5: © Marcus Bredt
Images: © Solveig Böhl (ZWP Ingenieur-AG)

Worth knowing

S3 Lab
electron microscopy