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University of Iowa News Release


Feb. 27, 2008

New, 'green' Hygienic Laboratory construction to begin in March

University Hygienic Laboratory (UHL) officials today announced that groundbreaking will begin in March for the new UHL facility on the University of Iowa Oakdale Campus, the first building designed specifically for the state public health laboratory and one which will be environmentally "green."

The $37.75 million, 113,500-square-foot Hygienic Laboratory, to be constructed on the southeast corner of Highway 965 and Oakdale Boulevard in Coralville, will replace the current UHL facility in Oakdale Hall, which was built in 1917 and is the oldest state laboratory in the nation. Completion of the new laboratory is scheduled for fall 2009.

"For the first time, our laboratory will be housed in a building designed for the vital testing that confirms infectious diseases, detects harmful contaminants in our environment, and supports rapid response to threats from lethal diseases and other agents that may be used in bio-terrorism," said UHL Director Christopher Atchison.

"We are also very excited that in keeping with our role as environmental stewards, the laboratory will be built following the U.S. Green Building Council's Rating System," he added.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System incorporates sustainable elements in design and construction techniques. New construction and renovation programs are scored for their use of these techniques in five design categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. The LEED-designated levels are Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.  The UHL project is expected to attain a LEED Silver certification.

Atchison thanked the Board of Regents, State of Iowa for its support of the university and its advocacy of the project. He also thanked Iowa's federal delegation for early developmental grants and the Iowa Legislature for its crucial financial support of the new Hygienic Laboratory. In 2006, state lawmakers allocated $36 million for the facility.

"We are very grateful to our state leaders for their commitment in helping make this building possible," Atchison said. "This new, world-class Hygienic Laboratory will ensure that the very best public health science is available for all Iowans."

Knutson Construction Services Midwest of Iowa City will serve as the general contractor for the new Hygienic Laboratory. The building has been designed by OPN Architects of Cedar Rapids.

The University Hygienic Laboratory is the state of Iowa's environmental and public health laboratory, with facilities located on the University of Iowa's Oakdale Campus in Iowa City and at the Iowa Lab Facilities in Ankeny, north of Des Moines. The UHL performs analyses on samples from virtually all matrices, including human clinical specimens, air, drinking water, wastewater, soil, sediment, industrial effluents, oil and fish. In addition to performing analyses by specified methods, the UHL provides methods development and procedure verification for non-routine analyses. Additional information about UHL, its programs and services is available online at

STORY SOURCE:  University Hygienic Laboratory, 102 Oakdale Campus, H101 OH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-5002

MEDIA CONTACT: Pat Blake, 319-335-4177,

PHOTOS: Images of the architectural drawings are available by contacting Pat Blake at 319-335-4177,