by Andy Tyner
Maine Molecular Quality Controls (MMQCI) was established in 2000 with an innovative product idea, determination for success, and the desire to support clinical laboratories and physicians/caregivers. MMQCI manufactures molecular controls for use in inherited disease testing, infectious disease detection and oncology. The company produces high caliber controls to monitor all phases of molecular testing which gives increased confidence in laboratory test results for the best decision making. MMQCI continues to grow in all aspects of its business with a mission of supporting the goal of achieving 100% accuracy of patient molecular test results.
This month, MMQCI, working with long-term partners SMRT Architects and Engineers and Consigli Construction, kicked off construction of its third expansion since 2014. Slated for completion in spring 2024, the project fits out 14,000sf of shell space providing additional workspaces and employee amenities.
The expansion supports MMQCI’s recruitment of top-tier talent to design and produce innovative, high-quality control products for emerging molecular diagnostics. MMQCI is a proponent of strong facilities design, understanding the business benefits of creating a flexible, business strengthening work environment while meeting the strict parameters of controlled manufacturing.
SMRT and Consigli completed the initial greenfield corporate headquarters, including laboratory and ISO 13485 certified manufacturing spaces, in 2015. The building achieved a significant milestone in the life science company’s evolution, setting the stage for continued growth and enhancing employee recruitment and retention.
The team, mindful of balancing design, performance, and cost, opted for an integrated approach, harnessing the expertise of all disciplines early in design to create a flexible, future-proof design and reflecting MMQCI’s collaborative spirit.
The current project incorporates a rooftop photovoltaic system, mitigating energy consumption and decreasing MMQCI’s carbon footprint. Like all controlled environment manufacturers, design challenges abound, from strict environmental criteria to employee access to daylight. To provide workspace daylight and employee well-being, exterior windows align with carefully placed interior windows, providing light and a connection to nature in 68% of the controlled area, and 100% of the workplace.
In addition, materials were evaluated for constructability and energy performance. Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) walls reduce operating costs by releasing or storing heat depending on outside temperatures, providing an air-tight envelope using fewer materials.
Air-tight enclosures underpin cleanroom performance, supporting systems controlling heat, humidity, air exchanges, and particulate matter to submicron levels, ensuring product quality and reliability. The mechanical design maximizes efficiency, using condensing natural gas fired boilers, high efficiency chillers, energy recovery on exhaust systems, and VAV air handling units with variable speed compressors and economizer control. These systems are carefully selected and coordinated with research and manufacturing requirements, as well as the building structure and envelope, to achieve an integrated, comprehensive solution.
The current design is the third major project undertaken by MMQCI, SMRT, and Consigli, demonstrating a strong partnership built on a collective vision and supported by mutual respect, trust, and listening. Their shared expertise in developing highly customized facilities meeting evolving business demands in inherited disease, infectious disease, and oncology testing and controls has supported MMQCI’s growth.
Andy Tyner, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP is a senior principal and project management leader at SMRT Architects and Engineers, focused on Science, Technology, & Manufacturing.