Setty: Howard University Interdisciplinary Research Building (HUIRB)

New construction of an educational facility; research facility/laboratory

By Setty August 17, 2015

Engineering firm: Setty
2015 MEP Giants rank: 78
Project: Howard University Interdisciplinary Research Building (HUIRB)
Address: Washington, D.C., United States
Building type: Educational facility; Research facility/laboratory
Project type: New construction
Engineering services: Plumbing, piping
Project timeline: 5/8/2012 to 9/1/2015
MEP/FP budget: $325,280


This building required a complex design of plumbing systems to serve a cleanroom and bio-lab environment in addition to the standard plumbing systems within a higher education establishment. The required plumbing systems included process-piping systems, vacuum, clean air, and chemical-waste treatment. The domestic water systems required multiple stages of purity to include high-purity and deionized water with central circulation. Lab and bulk gases included toxic and nontoxic systems. The main bulk-gas systems were N2, O2, AR, CO2, H2, HE, and LIN. The main challenges were to design the many different systems to fit within a limited space while maintaining proper maintenance clearances and service to the cleanroom. The cleanroom design requires different materials and construction execution methods that differ from non-cleanroom environments.


Finding solutions to the engineering problems faced in this building required a great deal of experience and specialized engineering skills. Knowledge of cleanroom design, process-piping systems, bulk-gas design, and bio-lab operations was key to determine proper layouts and assuring a good fit in a limited space. Material exposure is required to be at minimum in a cleanroom environment and proper materials were carefully selected in accordance with Class 100 cleanroom requirements. In addition to the challenges involved with space limitations, a great deal of consideration was given to the functionality of the use within these spaces. The locations of all the toxic and nontoxic bulk-gas-system supplies required very careful consideration and coordination with the needs of the facility. The design also incorporated a strategic layout with the intent to accommodate flexibility in future system changes with minimal work and effort required to make those future changes.