When people think of labs, they typically imagine the traditional wet lab: high benches arranged in orderly rows, stocked with beakers and test tubes, with sinks and heavy equipment within arm’s reach. But now, as big data and computation change the nature of discovery and processes for research, it’s time to holistically rethink the configuration of the lab environment.
We are at a unique moment in the world’s scientific enterprise; our collective knowledge base,...
A first priority of a lab is the ability to complete scientific research. To put it another way...
The developers of the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) describe their project as “a new and liberating lab typology that promotes collaboration and medical discovery, attracting the best researchers from around the world.” With design by global design and consulting firm Woods Bagot, SAHMRI was the first project completed within the new South Australian Health and Biomedical Precinct.
On September 19, 2014, the Smithsonian Institution opened the doors of its greenest building to date: The Charles McC. Mathias Laboratory on the campus of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) in Edgewater, Md. Designed to be the first LEED-Platinum building for the institution, the Mathias Lab demonstrates a renewed commitment by the Smithsonian and the U.S. Congress to invest in crucial environmental research.
Can a high containment lab have windows? Can the traditional model of a high containment lab be turned inside out? Can a high containment facility offer better life quality? The answer to all these questions is yes. Home to three international reference labs for 10 exotic viral diseases of livestock, The Pirbright Institute focuses on virology and, specifically, animal health, including zoonotic diseases.
In their 49th year, the Laboratory of the Year Awards continue to recognize excellence in research lab design, planning and construction. Judging for 2015’s competition took place on Thursday, February 19th, and was conducted by a blue-ribbon panel of lab architects, engineers, equipment manufacturers, researchers and the editors of R&D Magazine and Laboratory Design Newsletter.
Each year, many entries are entered into R&D Magazine’s Laboratory of the Year competition; but only a select few win. However, each entry exhibits trends in modern lab design. From flexibility to sustainability to collaboration, these trends showcase the best design options for lab facilities today and the future.
In “Modern trends in lab design” I’ve covered the latest trends in labs today. But what do architects foresee of future lab designs? And what issues still need to be addressed to make labs better for researchers and their research?
It’s easy to focus on the positive trends within lab design. The industry is full of buzzwords such as energy efficiency, sustainability, resiliency and collaboration. All these buzzwords truly are positive in building design and can lead to amazing and sexy architectural structures. However, not everything is positive in the industry.
Lab design is inordinately complex and often riddled with contradictions. So, when a lab must be relocated or renovated, the design process and subsequent project execution is exponentially complicated by yet another variable, existing facility and operating conditions.
Re-use, recycle, renovate or re-build—as architects and planners for higher education and research facilities, we wrestle with these choices time and again. It’s assumed we will design beautiful and functional spaces, as our education and experience have trained us. But before we dive into any architectural design work, an enormous task is before us.
According to data from McKinsey, a leading market research firm, as many as three out of four new products fail. In attempts to curb their new product failure rate, many companies rely on direct consumer engagement to help put new product introductions one step closer to success. Using direct consumer feedback on new products isn’t a new idea.
Engineering education is experiencing a reinvention. More than ever before, colleges and universities are employing experiential learning paradigms to enhance and solidify learning, with curriculums being reinvented and tailored to maximize relevancy to industrial real-world needs.
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 an increasingly serious topic in current political and economic debates. Meanwhile, while still ranking number one in many measures, U.S. universities see declining trends in research grant funding, and are urgently searching for new models of collaboration with private industry.
The landscape of lab design is rapidly changing, and labs themselves have changed drastically over the past few years. For instance, laptops and large monitors that facilitate spontaneous meetings and discussions are now in most labs. With the onset of lab design, before computers, the focus was on benches, fume hoods and workstations. But the way researchers work in labs has changed with the advent of the computer.
This month's issue of Laboratory Design Newsletter features articles on commissioning labs for energy savings, next-generation engineering labs, fast-track project delivery, incubator lab design, fire alarms in animal facilities, forensic lab design and more. The issue also includes news notes, new products and new projects.
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.
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