Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center

Relocation/New Research Center Design

New York, NY

Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center (ADARC) is one of the world’s largest private research facilities dedicated to the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS. ADARC’s new location at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) includes a biosafety level 3 (BSL3) laboratory, a highly controlled environment requiring compliance with strict regulations from the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control. Laboratories were designed for HIV/AIDS research, with flexibility to adapt to scientific advancements and needs. In 2020, many ADARC scientists directed their attention to the testing, treatment, and prevention of COVID- 19.

Specialized building systems were designed to meet guidelines and protect users and the outside community from viruses. Due to harmful microbes within BSL3 laboratories, all spaces must have negative air pressure to block virus transmission. An interlocking door system and cascading air pressure system work together to maintain required air pressure and prevent release of contaminants. High-efficiency particulate air filtration devices filter exhaust air to ensure air exiting the building is virus-free. Furthermore, to accommodate biosafety hazards, requirements for BSL3 laboratories are more stringent than typical laboratory design and must account for system failure. All systems prevent operational delay and ensure air pressure remains negative or neutral if a power failure occurs. In the event of an “upset condition,” controls activate isolation dampers that close within seconds to keep air pressure from going positive. Dampers can also be closed manually to facilitate decontamination or fumigation.

The BSL3 suite was designed for optimum flexibility with minimal disruption amid the ever-evolving landscape of scientific research. The laboratory’s successful adaptation to satisfy a new need was demonstrated in its seamless transition to accommodate COVID-19 research. The laboratory was repurposed without additional modifications, transitioning quickly and effortlessly.

Project Photography: © 2020 Pavel Bendov

Technical Statistics

OWNER: Columbia University Irving Medical Center
ARCHITECT: Lord Aeck Sargent
INDUSTRIES: Science & Technology
AWARDS: ACEC NY Diamond Engineering Excellence Award