Case Studies

Vontz Center for Molecular Studies – University of Cincinnati

Project Specifications:

Fosdick & Hilmer provided complete mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection, data and automation systems design for expansion and renovation of the animal facility in the 150,000 GSF Vontz Center for Molecular Studies designed by Frank O. Gehry. The existing facility was modified to incorporate approximately 4,820 GSF of new construction and 3,820 GSF of renovated space.

Existing labs were expanded northward to complete unfinished space on the ground floor. Expansion included four animal holding rooms, two procedure labs, clean and dirty staging rooms, two toilet rooms and a break room.

Existing lab areas to the south were renovated to include nine animal holding rooms, three procedure rooms, and a janitor’s closet. The renovated rooms were finished to match all other lab spaces.

The HVAC system is a variable air volume (VAV) system with reheat capability for supply air. Each Animal holding room has individual thermostatic control and uses 100% outside air. Humidity control is provided by direct digital control (DDC) for steam humidifying equipment serving all labs. Exhaust air is through ceiling grilles. Each animal room is under 15-20% negative pressure with respect to adjoining spaces. This pressure differential is continually monitored in each animal space.

Major program requirements included the following:

  • Air handling units, including exhaust fans, are located remote from this renovation; and were installed with isolators to prevent transmission of equipment vibration.
  • Supply air distribution system has sound attenuation devices at the air outlets.
  • Control air valves for each room also have sound attenuation.
  • Digital HVAC control system is used to maintain the critical air balance issues within the facility.



  • Renovation of an occupied building.
  • Construction phase planning to facilitate existing building operations.
  • All animal facilities comply with AAALAC guidelines. [all animal facilities have received AAALAC accreditation]
  • All animal facilities comply with guidance, policies and regulations established by NIH’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare, including NIH Grants Policy Statement.
    • All animal facilities comply with ILAR’s Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.
    • All animal facilities comply with PHS’s Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.
  • Vivarium construction meets biosafety practice and policy established in CDC/NIH’s publication Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories.
  • Vivarium construction meets CDC/NIH requirements for Animal Biological Safety Level 1 and 2 (ABSL-1 & ABSL-2).