Advancing Investigations into Human and Animal Health

Veterinary and Biomedical Research Building

Washington State University

With each research discipline having its own distinct needs, fostering community and sharing resources required new ways of thinking about spaces for collaboration.


132,000 sf


Pullman, WA

Year Complete


2014 Lab of the Year — R&D Magazine

2013 Merit Award — AIA Washington Council Civic Design

2013 Best of Category Award: Education — IIDA Oregon

When I reflect on the elements of what the architects at SRG did that contributed to this out‑standing outcome I come up with three. First is the knowledge of the scientific process that they brought to the table. They were familiar with the tools and equipment we use and how we use them, as well as how scientists interact with one another. Second, they listened to what we said our needs were. Through a dialog that better helped us define exactly what we wanted, a joint vision was developed that satisfied our needs and wants. Finally, there is the outstanding aesthetic sensibility they brought to the project. I can confidently speak for my entire department when I report that we all are extremely pleased with the outcome and we are thankful that every day we get to come and work in such an outstanding facility. Steve Simasko, Dean of VCAPP

The REC Master Plan

The Veterinary and Biomedical Research Building (VBRB) is the third building in a planned, multi-building, phased Research and Education Complex (REC) at WSU. The REC Master Plan, completed in 2004 by SRG, allocates an 11-acre site east of the major athletic facilities for a new interconnected, inter-disciplinary research complex totaling 750,000 square feet. An integrated north-south circulation spine will link all subsequent buildings into a single complex and provides access to many functions shared between departments.

Supporting Interdisciplinary Work

The VBRB is expanding expectations for interactive research as home to WSU’s Department of Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience. Physiologists, neurologists, and psychologists all come together here to cross-pollinate their expertise and explore the complex relationships between mind, body, and behavior as never before.

The building’s highly strategic environment incorporates numerous innovations to optimize the efficiency and productivity of its full spectrum of users. Each discipline has its own distinct needs, so increasing interaction, sharing resources, and promoting community required new ways of thinking.

Emphasizing transparency and connections, bands of open labs and offices extend through the building and alternate with bands of enclosed offices and specialized lab support spaces. Shared equipment zones are provided via an equipment corridor connecting the research “neighborhoods.” Generous daylight and views enhance these work environments, and informal meeting spaces promote interdisciplinary engagement.

Optimizing Natural Light

The building’s narrow footprint and transparency, combined with open lab and office zones allows daylight to penetrate all regularly occupied spaces. External shading devices and interior shades were not used due to concerns over snow accumulation, bird nesting and maintenance issues, but months of study for the south-facing windows yielded an innovative solution. Specially glazed transom lights and fixed/operable internal shading devices now optimize light transmission while preventing sunlight infiltration and glare, essential factors in this harsh, high-desert environment.

Sustainable Design

This state-of-the-art facility incorporates many sustainable design elements tailored to eastern Washington’s high-desert environment and performs 40% better than similar research buildings. Key integrated strategies include heat recovery, chilled beam cooling, abundant daylight harvesting, and a highly insulated building enclosure.

Forming an empirical basis for design decisions, we integrated a rigorous analysis of climate, energy use, daylighting and water conservation with the functional requirements of a contemporary laboratory building. Leveraging a long history of collaboration with the University of Oregon’s Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratory (ESBL), we used computer simulations and physical models to test, re-test and validate proposed solutions.