Vanderbilt University – Laboratories

Case Study Overview


A part of what we do is helping realize groundbreaking visions within a confined space––not necessarily thinking outside the box but rather finding ways to innovate within it. As Vanderbilt University welcomed new doctors and researchers to their staff, GHP partnered with the university to complete a series of lab renovations that would create a customized home for each new faculty member to continue their pioneering research.


Adapting each building’s existing framework to support individual research needs, GHP partnered closely with Vanderbilt’s directors to create spaces that delivered on both flow and function. Working within firm budgets and efficient timelines, each project required GHP to sharpen their pencils and craft innovative solutions to use less space to ensure more usability. Through three separate projects, GHP was tasked with designing labs that would house researchers’ equipment while maximizing long-term cleanability, sustainability and safety.

For Vanderbilt’s Genetic Anthropology and Bio-cultural Studies Lab, GHP’s main objective was to formulate a clean room with a class 6 rating that would enhance the department’s ancient genetics research. Challenges arose as project parameters and scope of funding changed, but the GHP team drew up a single space infrastructure that would equally support two researchers without compromising their individual needs. These new plans enabled a duct system to be installed within the existing bones of the building to provide critical air ventilation. Existing lab benches and casework were also utilized to save on budget while producing a fresh, modern look.

Crafting a space for the university’s Alzheimer’s disease research, GHP also conducted an equipment-heavy redesign of three interconnected areas in the Rena A. S. Robinson Chemistry Lab. Implementing required emergency precautions to prevent loss of energy support, the finished project included the creation of 16 graduate student work stations, a lab director’s office and a support break and presentation space.

As part of the renovation of Vanderbilt’s Olin Hall, GHP proposed a 12 lab move to instate critical facility updates for the work of a new researcher in the university’s mechanical and electrical engineering departments. Working closely with these directors and the project’s contractor over the course of 12 months, GHP provided careful planning, design and documentation for this successful multi-unit update.


From DNA studies to metabolic engineering to Alzheimer’s research, the GHP team noted the most rewarding part of each lab renovation has been the knowledge that their designs now play a supporting role in cutting-edge research that will inevitably shape our world for the better.

GHP Team