Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

Located in Bethesda, Maryland, the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) is the US military’s premier referral center providing casualty and beneficiary care, postgraduate education, training, and critical medical research. The project was congressionally mandated under the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Act leading to the new one million square foot facility and 480,000 square foot renovation of the existing facility.

Southland Engineering provided the HVAC and plumbing design for the new medical center. The facility provides a full range of intensive and complex specialty and subspecialty medical services, including specialized facilities for the most serious injuries.

Approach & Innovations

Challenged with unique room requirements, Southland Engineering proposed 100 percent outside air HVAC systems to exceed owner and federally mandated requirements. The risk of transmitting diseases through HVAC systems is of vital concern with healthcare facilities. To avoid this, the outside air systems enhance indoor air quality by eliminating potentially infectious bacteria being recirculated throughout the building. The design utilizes large enthalpy heat recovery wheels to recover energy from the building’s exhaust air before it is directed outside. Southland Engineering was able to prove significant 25-year savings with the 100 percent outside air system through a lifecycle cost analysis.

Specialty operating rooms have unique loads and room design conditions.  To comply with owner and user requirements, Southland Engineering designed active desiccant-based air handling systems to serve the facility’s 20 operating rooms. The systems remove moisture to reduce humidity, improve air quality, reduce the opportunity for biological contamination in the distribution ductwork and allow for low room design temperatures.

During the facility’s 480,000 square foot renovation, Southland Engineering designed a state-of-the-art in vitro fertilization (IVF) laboratory. Through collaboration with the laboratory’s staff, the design team selected specialized carbon filters in order to minimize volatile organic compounds in the air stream, as well as high-efficiency particulate arresting (HEPA) filters to maintain a high level of indoor air quality and improve the IVF facility’s success rate.


Client: Naval Facilities Engineering Command

Location: Bethesda, Maryland

LEED: Gold

Square Footage: 1,500,000