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RS&H Honored with the ‘Excellence In Small Project Design’ Award From Lab Design

April 26, 2024      By Jennifer Nix McGerald, CPSM

Tags: Science, Awards, Press Release

Houston, TX Employee-owned architecture, engineering, and consulting firm RS&H was recently awarded the “Excellence in Small Project Design” award from Lab Design as part of their fifth annual Design Excellence Awards. This recognition was for RS&H’s exceptional work on the NASA Asteroid Sample Curation Facility that opened for operation in the early 2020s. 

Interior of asteroid sample curation center at Johnson Space Center.

Lab Design’s Design Excellence Awards aim to honor research laboratory design, planning, and construction achievements. The program, launched in 2019, invites industry professionals to put their recent lab projects into words for a chance to enter an elite community in the lab design world. A panel of industry leaders—consisting of laboratory architects, engineers, construction professionals, and editorial staff from Lab Design—analyze each entry for its approach to lab design. 

“We’re honored to receive the ‘Excellence in Small Project Design’ award,” said Andrew Wheeler, Executive Vice President and Buildings National Operations Leader at RS&H. “This recognition underscores our unwavering commitment to innovation and highlights our long, successful partnership with NASA.” Interior of asteroid sample curation center at Johnson Space Center.

As a valued partner of NASA since the 1960s, RS&H started the NASA Asteroid Sample Curation Facility project with a contract for HVAC repairs, which blossomed into laboratory repairs, laboratory design, and a master plan that would consolidate the Astro-materials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) division from six buildings down to two. In preparation for returning asteroid samples to Earth from the OSIRIS-REx and Hayabusa2 asteroid research missions, NASA leadership recognized they needed a first-of-its-kind facility to research, store, and protect the extraterrestrial samples. 

Conducting a series of interviews with the 14 ARES technical teams and NASA facility engineering specialists, RS&H determined the project materials suitably aligned with the trace sensitivities of equipment used to handle and analyze astro-materials being curated. By analyzing the required adjacencies that promote efficient and effective space planning and scientific efficacy, RS&H’s team developed a design that will facilitate analysis and advance the multiple collaborative sciences to enable future exploration and discovery.  

Interior of asteroid sample curation center at Johnson Space Center.

“This project is unique, exciting, inspiring, and satisfying,” said Michael P. Vascellaro, AIA, NCARB, Vice President and Laboratory Planner/ Architect at RS&H. “The spaces that we design support the science that will be conducted within them, making our work a continuation of the greatest human gift—our curiosity—that has helped us survive, advance, and create as a species.” 

About RS&H

Employee-owned, RS&H is one of the nation’s leading architecture, engineering, and consulting firms whose associates work hard every day to create a more connected future where everyone can thrive. We offer an exceptional journey from start to future for clients in the aerospace, aviation, corporate, federal, health and science, and transportation. Our integrated teams translate experience into insight, turn challenges into opportunities and build relationships that are as strong as the buildings and infrastructure we deliver together. RS&H can be reached at 1.800.741.2014 or  

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