As a building type, labs have historically been the most energy-intensive facilities. This poses a tremendous challenge when designing lab buildings as net-zero energy consumers. A few prototype lab projects with net-zero energy intent do exist, usually with unique conditions of light lab programs and/or favorable climates.
The competitiveness of U.S. high-technology manufacturing in the global marketplace has become...
The landscape of lab design is rapidly changing, and labs themselves have changed drastically...
The process of scientific investigation—in the simplest of terms—is one of trial-and-error. Researchers test proof-of-concept and then reposition their focus based on data. The idea is to fail quickly, to get to the desired result sooner. The design process is similarly iterative. Solving for user’s needs and anticipating challenges often requires a search and discovery approach to the built environment.
Not long ago a prospective client called and asked if it would be feasible to incorporate a state-of-the-art, full-body research magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) suite into a new building. After a review of the finished building plans, we quickly determined not only was the building design not ideal for MRI use, but it would be impossible without extensive and expensive design changes.
Partnerships between universities and businesses are nothing new, but these partnerships have become especially relevant in the face of increasing economic pressure and global competition, the need for interdisciplinary approaches and the growing complexity of the problems need solutions.
Simulation centers are often located in the basement or unused space of hospitals, universities and research centers. In some cases, they are a facilities best-kept secret, as they provide a wealth of learning and activities to prep workers for real-world situations. Most are also architecturally nondescript.
The increased pressure for undergraduates to gain research experience prior to graduate school has led to more students requesting participation in a lab environment throughout their undergraduate career. Undergraduate institutions are now faced with the challenge of finding an environment where faculty can succeed in their individual research endeavors, as well as teach these future scientists in their research labs.
In the past decade, the expansion of research focus areas in engineering has undergone a transformation. The demands of engineering labs present challenges for institutions because most occupied spaces were conceived during an era with radically different needs and required services.
Much equipment used in nanotech, physical and biological sciences can’t function properly if subjected to vibrations that exceed small threshold values. As a result, lab designers are faced with the challenge of developing designs where vibration disturbances are within acceptable limits to further science.
Translational research is a paradigm for research designed to enable innovative thinking by leveraging the benefits of collaboration. First emerging in the mid-1990s in reference to cancer studies spanning basic science, over the past two decades the definition has broadened and evolved.
A well-designed lab facility will deliver a powerful combination of safety, functionality, efficiency and responsible use of resources. Most owners strive to achieve these goals in any new lab project or major renovation or addition. Performance can be documented by commissioning: third-party testing of the facility’s major mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems before a new or renovated project is turned over to the owner.
In the past decade, the breadth of research focus areas within engineering has undergone a monumental transformation and expansion. Payette has investigated these transitions at many levels—from small-scale highly technical research lab designs to multiple institutional master plans.
Flexibility is critical when considering the future of science, research and lab environments. However, research needs down the road are difficult to predict, and flexibility is hard to define. Yet, reducing a facility’s flexibility may mean the loss of spare engineering capacities/infrastructures, services planning and space for anticipated growth and fit-out.
Research science startups face similar decisions and crises any new business venture might. The volatile marketplace demand for breakthrough research and the rigors of nurturing a new business make early-stage decisions crucial, even perilous. The startup’s first dedicated research lab represents a major investment of capital, and to invest wisely, leadership should ask itself a few fundamental questions.
Science is evolving: It’s becoming more translational and multidisciplinary in nature. Just as science evolves, so do lab environments. Most lab environments are now designed to be more open and not just meant for one discipline—today, biologists may work next to chemists, or chemists work alongside physicists, and so on.
The Midwest can boast of a new 60,000-sf crime lab (which shall remain unnamed). Designed by Crime Lab Design (CLD), this facility has been a long time coming, and is a good reminder of the virtue of patience. Even in good economic times, the facility would’ve faced two significant challenges to begin with: First, justifying the project to a wary state government; and second, securing funding from that government.
Page has announced the acquisition of noted East Coast firm Strategic Science & Technology (SST) Planners, a lab planning and design consulting firm in northern Virginia, to expand their lab planning capabilities. Chris Cowansage, Malena Aquino, David McCullough and their design teams will continue to support their many architectural and institutional clients with quality personalized services.
Sometimes just reading about great lab and building design isn’t enough. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the annual Laboratory Design Conference allows our attendees to view some of the most sexy, most well-planned and most sustainable labs there are in the host city.
Is it possible to design a learning and research center that maximizes efficiency while accelerating interdisciplinary discovery that often happens within informal spaces outside classrooms and labs? Colleges and universities are recognizing the need to provide informal research and learning places in addition to flexible labs and classrooms.
Adaptability and flexibility are key ingredients to successful lab planning and design. As the technology changes, so does the nature of the research and the ways in which researchers use the space. Labs, though equipped in a more complex and technical manner, are ultimately workplaces. Like open offices throughout the corporate world, labs are transforming into open work zones supported by collocated specialized equipment.
Academic institutions are seeing significant shifts in pedagogy in response to advances in digital technology. Universities are capitalizing on this paradigm shift to take many areas of study beyond traditional text books, physically engaging students in a more meaningful way and connecting them to opportunities in the marketplace.
The 2015 Laboratory Design Conference is open for registration. Your opportunity to learn, network and participate in discussions about current and future trends in lab design is coming to Atlanta, April 27-29th. The countdown to the conference has begun, and here’s a countdown of reasons why you should be there.
Flexibility in research labs has been a universal goal in recent years. Components that contribute to flexibility include lab casework systems and utility connections, zoning specific areas of a building and programming. In many situations, flexibility is solely focused on the solutions possible within the typical lab area vs. a more holistic look at the larger view of the research ecosystem.
Many higher education institutions are struggling to meet a broad spectrum of facilities recapitalization needs that return the greatest benefit to the campus. These needs include capital improvements to flexible facilities that support contemporary learning and create an interactive, collaborative experience for the broad and evolving campus community.
The typical lab building is an energy hog. These buildings house complex environments heavy on equipment and infrastructure and are regulated by strict code requirements. While the basics of green architecture create a strong backbone for sustainable lab environments, a truly successful green lab strategy strives to contribute to the occupants’ comfort while addressing a need for constant change, heavy energy usage and waste regulations.
How do we design labs for future uses that haven’t been defined? Today’s interdisciplinary approach to scientific research requires synergistic, extremely flexible lab spaces that accommodate the needs of diverse users. To support the growing convergence of scientific disciplines and quickly evolving technologies, organizations must provide flexible research environments that allow for efficient short- and long-term changes.
Do you have what it takes to provide input for the design of a new building? Good researchers and good user representatives often share similar qualities. User representatives are the primary link between the designers and the functional requirements of a lab project. They provide the expertise the design team needs to shape the general planning parameters.
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