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November 5, 2021

Korsmo Construction breaks ground on shared state lab, training center

Images from ZGF Architects [enlarge]
The L&I/WSDA Safety & Health Laboratory and Training Center will be topped with an array of solar panels.

The 53,000-square-foot building will have space for several labs.

The state departments of Labor & Industries and Agriculture held a groundbreaking ceremony this week for a new lab and training center at 7345 Linderson Way S.W. in Tumwater. The two agencies will operate labs in the building that test for food safety and hazardous chemicals.

Called the L&I/WSDA Safety & Health Laboratory and Training Center, the building will be 53,000 square feet with space for several labs, offices and conference rooms. It was funded through a $53.2 million capital budget appropriation by the state Legislature in 2019. Korsmo Construction of Tacoma is building the project under the general contractor/construction manager method.

An L&I news release says collaboration on a joint facility saves taxpayer money and agency resources that are now going to maintaining aging buildings and equipment in spaces that were not built for those uses. The agencies expect to occupy the new building in February 2023.

L&I will move in its Division of Occupational Safety & Health Lab and Training Center. The existing DOSH operation is in an aging and damaged facility on Plum Street in Olympia that was not designed for lab use, according to the agency. This lab analyzes samples taken at work sites to determine if hazardous chemicals or materials are present and, if so, the amount to which employees may have been exposed.

The new DOSH lab will provide the temperature control, workspaces and other environmental needs for the analytical instruments that staff use.

L&I says its training center will allow more students to attend at one time, and, unlike the current center, includes indoor and outdoor areas to demonstrate heavy earthmoving equipment, cranes, scaffolding and other construction equipment.

For WSDA, the new building will be a upgrade over its current operation, which squeezes five labs into a former warehouse in Olympia. In this old warehouse, WSDA conducts food safety tests and has a plant pathology lab that looks for signs of harmful disease in crops. L&I says the aging warehouse requires WSDA technicians to constantly calibrate sensitive lab equipment.

The new building on Linderson Way will also have space for WSDA's entomology or “bug lab.” This collection of bugs, microscopes and other equipment currently occupies a small office at the agency's main location in Olympia.

“Our labs play a vital role in ensuring the safety of our food supplies as well as in monitoring potentially harmful plant diseases and invasive species,” WSDA Director Derek Sandison said in the release. “Through our partnership with L&I, this new building will set up our laboratory operations for continued success for decades to come.”

ZGF Architects of Seattle designed the building to be net zero capable. It will be steel with a masonry exterior. Some of the green elements will include electric vehicle charging stations, a lighting system that reduces nighttime light pollution, solar panels, high-efficiency water fixtures and a low-energy LED interior lighting system.

ZGF design partner Allyn Stellmacher said in the release: “In accordance with the state's efforts to decarbonize and transition to 100% clean energy over the next two decades, this project will showcase sustainable green building strategies that set the bar high for all new state buildings.”

Environmental documents submitted for the project also show a parking lot with 143 spaces, landscaping, a loading/unloading dock and a walking trail with green space. L&I's outdoor training yard will be graded and covered with gravel.

The project team includes: Lund Opsahl, structural engineer; SCJ Alliance, civil engineer; Affiliated Engineers, mechanical, plumbing and fire; Reyes Engineering, electrical; and Site Workshop, landscape architect.

L&I says it has collaborated with WSDA in the past on a number of projects, and the two agencies currently share a building in Yakima.

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