Wellness and Environmental Considerations in Anatomy Labs

June 28, 2024


June 28, 2024


Wellness may not be the first idea that comes to mind when someone mentions an anatomy lab. The extensive use of formaldehyde for cadaver preservation makes the topic of air quality management a top priority.

The Duquesne University's Anatomy Lab at Rangos School of Health Sciences presented the unique challenge of renovating the existing lab within an existing footprint and upgrading the systems and overall learning environment.

The guiding principles for this lab transformation included:

  • Increase the number of lab stations and student groups that use the lab each semester
  • Improve air exchange management to further minimize exposure to formalin vapors
  • Integrate technology at each lab station
  • Add scrub sinks to facilitate instrument cleaning at the end of each class
  • Incorporate an autopsy/embalming station

Read on to learn more about this transformative project...

More Student Groups

The updated space now offers 14 stations equipped dual rotating cadaver tables. This type of table allows additional student groups to use the lab during each semester as each table can hold two cadavers. A cadaver freezer and holding racks are located in a separate room but connected to the lab using an overhead door that facilitates transportation using a cadaver lift.

The lab stations are distributed along two of the perimeter walls and customized casework was provided for each station with capacity to store and clean instruments.

Secrets Between the Walls

The most unique aspect of this renovation is the newly added ventilation system at each station. These stations were designed to pull vapors away from those who are working at the tables, allowing for a more comfortable learning and working environment for everyone who utilizes the lab.

The MEP engineers for the project designed a mechanical system that circulates air through the space at a rate of 15 air changes per hour to continuously flush out contaminants and replace the room air with filtered outside air.

In addition to the elements in the room, a roof-mounted energy recovery air handling unit conditions and supplies 100% outdoor air to maintain space temperature through all weather conditions and space operating schedules. This type of system results in significant energy savings by transferring the temperature of the exhaust to the supply, pre-heating or pre-cooling the incoming fresh air without ever re-introducing the exhausted air itself or the contaminants therein.

The Value of Expertise

Our team brings more than 25 years of experience on over 135 college and university campuses, we enhance student living and learning through design. We have earned a national reputation as a leader in the programming, planning, and design of student life projects in higher education. Check out our higher education portfolio for more insights and please get in touch with any questions. We look forward to the opportunity to bring better value to your projects.

Contributing Author: Maria Kyriacopoulos, AIA, LFA, LEED AP BD+C, Principal is an architect and designer who believes that excellence in design starts with deep understanding of a client’s needs and aspirations. Her attention to detail and ability to integrate practicality and aesthetics are reflected in multiple completed projects. She is a LEED accredited professional and enthusiastically promotes sustainability, resiliency, and wellness in and out of the office. Maria has applied her expertise and forward-driven process to projects of various sizes and scopes including healthcare, corporate, K-12, and Higher Education.

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