Exterior shot of ARUP’s new laboratory facility with mountains in the distance

Faster, Stronger, and Bigger Than Ever Before

When the sun rises over the foothills just east of Salt Lake City, a new 220,000-square-foot, four-story building is now silhouetted against the landscape. The building is the epicenter of ARUP Laboratories’ growing operations and has increased the company’s laboratory space by 45%.

“We had the opportunity to design the optimal home for large-scale laboratory operations, and then make it a reality. That is what this new building is,” said Andy Theurer, president and soon-to-be CEO.

ARUP’s new 220,000-square-foot laboratory facility brings ARUP’s physical presence in University of Utah Research Park to more than 750,000 square feet and makes it the company with the largest presence in the park.

Inside the massive structure, specimens zoom along on a sophisticated automated transport system that extends 1.4 miles through the building, up and down floors, in a laboratory environment designed to optimize specimen stability, safety, and turnaround time.

“Our advanced automation has already allowed us to achieve Six Sigma standards, particularly in the area of number of lost specimens,” said Operations Director Clint Wilcox, who has overseen the automation project. “The increased trackability made possible by the new automation will only further improve our track record.”

Hidden above ceilings, tucked into floors, and even in a tunnel are mechanical, electrical, piping, and other flexible systems that will allow ARUP to adapt and scale up to meet future testing needs as the company, one of the nation’s largest reference laboratories, continues to grow.

To ensure that laboratories can operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week without disruption, the electrical and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems have been built with redundancy to guarantee backups if a system goes down, explained Curtis Hansen, director of facilities.

When there are glitches in power, an uninterrupted power system (UPS) kicks in to supply power for the seconds needed until the backup generator takes over, so testing continues uninterrupted. The sophisticated ventilation system ensures that air quality remains uncontaminated (for laboratorians and samples alike) and temperatures stay steady to ensure specimen viability.


Expansive New Lab Space

Some of the largest labs and areas in the new building include an expanded Specimen Processing and Specimen Receiving (SR) area, Mass Spectrometry Lab, Chemistry Core Lab, Automated Endocrinology Lab, Immunology Core Lab, and the Serologic Hepatitis-Retrovirus Lab.

All areas of SR are now centralized on the fourth floor of the new building, with flexibility to grow. “We really gain efficiencies and streamline the workflow by being centralized,” said David Rogers, senior operations director. He added that the new automation system improves efficiencies as well, allowing for groups of 20 specimens to be transported in a single rack. With the previous system, one specimen moved along the automated track at a time.

The size of the Mass Spectrometry Lab increased by more than a third and includes three separate chemical control areas to ensure safe use of chemicals. This was the most expensive lab to build because it requires an enormous amount of power to operate 120 mass spectrometers. Chad Turner, design and construction manager, explained that a custom exhaust system extracts heat from the mass spectrometry equipment. “When the machines run at cooler temperatures, this provides for more accurate and reliable testing for our patients. It also means less downtime because the equipment is less likely to overheat.”

In the new, expanded Chemistry Core Lab, the new automation has improved workflow and significantly decreased turnaround times. It has brought manual specimen touches down from 26 to eight. A new software system has expedited testing, as well. “Up to 70% of our manual steps have been replaced by automation,” said Ryan Greer, who oversees technical operations in the Chemistry division. “We have enough capacity built into our systems that we are now poised for 30% growth over the next 10 years.”

To customize equipment and provide instant repairs and maintenance, ARUP now houses its machine shop, automation shop, and bioengineering shop all in this one building. The first floor houses a new café and patio, along with other accommodations for employees (e.g., conference rooms, lockers, showers, mother’s rooms).

ARUP Chief Operations Officer Jonathan Genzen stands in front of automated lab equipment
ARUP Chief Operations Officer Jonathan Genzen, MD, PhD, was key in helping to design a facility optimal for efficient, high-quality laboratory operations and for the comfort of lab employees.

On all four floors, laboratorians work under high ceilings, surrounded by natural light, with views of the mountains. “In designing this building, we absolutely aimed to create an environment that would increase happiness and satisfaction among our employees,” said Jonathan Genzen, chief operations officer. “If our staff is happy, we collectively accomplish great things.”


Peta Owens-Liston, peta.liston@aruplab.com

Meet the Masterminds Who Made It Happen

A group wearing masks stand in front of automated lab equipment
Technical Project Manager Adam Christensen, Design and Construction Manager Chad Turner, and Technical Operations Program Manager Heidi Kildee have spent the past three years executing plans for ARUP’s new laboratory facility.
Chad Turner portrait

Chad Turner

It is not unusual for Chad Turner to walk seven miles in a day on the job. Turner, ARUP Facilities design and construction manager, was one of the lead architects for ARUP’s new building and then transitioned into overseeing its construction and design. “I’ve never seen a building designed with such foresight to ensure no downtime or interruptions. It has been designed to never really fail,” said Turner, who has designed large hospitals. “The connection to patient care has been expressed in every step.”


Adam Christensen portrait

Adam Christensen

Adam Christensen is a solver of 3-D puzzles with life-size proportions. Over four years, his team took a tabletop model and transformed it into 1.4 miles of automated track that transports specimens between two buildings and up and down four floors. “We really learned to shift and pivot quickly,” said Christensen, an ARUP technical project manager. “Every detail has been about efficiently moving specimens to the right labs and increasing trackability. It’s like we’ve got a little GPS database for each specimen.”


Heidi Kildee portrait

Heidi Kildee

“I like to call myself a shepherd,” said Heidi Kildee, who oversaw a massive collaboration that started when the building was merely blueprints to determine the space needs for labs, and eventually, to coordinate the move. “In shepherding our teams through this, I’ve learned you need the right people on the right teams, constant communication, and agility,” said Kildee, who is the program manager for the Technical Operations space planning team. “We’ve all developed strong camaraderie and a passion to see this through for an amazing future for ARUP and the clients we support.”

Did You Know?

Specimens move up to 90 feet per minute on a 1.4-mile-long conveyor system.


All four sides of specimen racks are labeled so they can be located at any point along the automation track.


The deionization water system, which provides purified water for lab testing, includes two tanks that each hold 1,500 gallons of water.


The new mechanical system exchanges the air in labs with fresh air up to 10 times an hour, and if necessary, can perform this air swap up to 14 times an hour.


A total of 18,500 square feet of windows allows for plenty of natural light and mountain views.


All 21 conference rooms in the new building are named for birds native to Utah.


The new Mountainside Café’s industrial dishwasher can wash enough dishes for 2,000 meals a day.


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