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A Study of Overhead Service Carriers

Jeff Strohmeyer, Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum, Inc. (HOK)

This presentation will provide a study in overhead service carriers. The presentation will look at issues that include: Criteria (functionality, ergonomics, cost, effectiveness, aesthetics), Options (custom vs. off the shelf systems from casework suppliers), Case Studies (recently completed projects), and the future of overhead service carriers.


The presentation will include present examples from recently completed laboratory projects, including the University of Illinois Incubator Facility, in which a custom designed overhead service carrier was incorporated. This custom carrier attaches to the floor by metal unistrut which allows for additional overhead storage and for piping to be brought down to the countertop level as needed. Thin Trespa panels were used to shroud the piping and conduit above and lighting and sprinkler systems were also integrated into the carrier. Additionally, the presentation will cover interviews with casework manufacturers and others in the industry to establish opinions about the future of overhead service carriers.

Labs21 Connection:

Flexible modular lab casework systems have been in existence for more than 30 years, and offer a significant opportunity to create sustainable laboratory environments that remain flexible enough to accommodate tenant changes, equipment additions and staff fluctuations. A major component of any modular system is the provision of fixed services. Overhead service carriers provide all utilities (generally excluding water, due to drain issues) in a contained, overhead, configurable conduit. These service carriers cost approximately $500 a lineal foot, and while they can be designed and configured by architects, many casework manufacturers are now designing the overhead service carrier systems. Maintaining a method of providing these services without disrupting the flexibility of the casework systems is an important consideration. Additionally, issues such as user convenience and ergonomics influence the decisions in service carrier options.

This presentation will touch on issues related to the utilization of green building materials, lengthening the life expectancy of the facility, and the importance of providing safe, ergonomic design features in new/renovated laboratories.


Jeff Strohmeyer is an architect specializing in the programming, planning, and design of laboratory facilities and high performance buildings. He is a senior laboratory programmer, planner and architect with more than 18 years of experience with HOK's Science + Technology Group. His expert laboratory design solutions result in state-of-the-art, functional, safe, environmentally friendly and aesthetically pleasing spaces for research.

A graduate of the University of Illinois, Mr. Strohmeyer is a member of the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineers (ISPE). He recently published the article, "Making a Case for Flexible Lab Design" in Laboratory Design Newsletter.


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