(HOK/Germfree Laboratories Inc.)

ULI MEMBER–ONLY CONTENT: As college and corporate campuses reopen this fall, a new line of mobile testing labs may help these institutions enhance their public health profile.

Global architecture firm HOK teamed up with Germfree Laboratories Inc., an experienced manufacturer of mobile biosafety labs, to design biosafety level two (BSL 2+) labs that offer a rapidly deployable facility for testing active or suspected cases of COVID-19. Intended to address the needs of large institutions, including colleges and universities, corporations with expansive campuses, manufacturing facilities, and government installations, the labs can provide full-time, high-volume testing without the need to build new structures.

Composed of two Germfree modules, the labs accommodate up to nine staff workers as well as one or two high-throughput diagnostic machines capable of testing 80 samples at a time, resulting in up to 1,120 tests per day. One module is dedicated to sample collection and the second is dedicated to testing. The starting cost for the sample collection module and BSL 2+ testing laboratory is $1.3 million.

HOK designed the sample collection module to also support inoculations once a vaccine becomes available.

“We developed this solution to help our clients, many of whom have many employees or students who will require regular testing with immediate results,” says Tim O’Connell, director of science and technology for HOK.

“We considered the architectural object as much as the operational efficiency of the lab, imbuing the modules with details that make them friendly and welcoming,” he says.

For example, the modules have special “flaps” that cover doors while the module is in transit, which, after installation, open to create a porch that provides protection from sun or rain. Patterned film covers some windows, providing privacy for visitors during sample collection and other procedures.

The mobile labs will be available in mid-autumn. Representatives of HOK and Germfree say they are designing two trailer-based products for smaller organizations that do not need a semi-permanent facility.