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Laboratory Design spoke with Ken Ederington, AIA, RA, Director of Science with Carrier Johnson + CULTURE.

Laboratory Design (LD): What made you decide to pursue your particular career?
Ken Ederington (KE): As a young architect having just moved to San Diego, I was considering three different job offers, each for a completely different project type. I went for the highest bidder, I admit, a job where I’d be focused on laboratory design, which I had not even realized was a specialty area. It was a rocky undertaking at the start, but I was given a lot of responsibility immediately and I threw myself completely into it.  Lab planning was new, it was complex, it required a lot of knowledge that had to be sought out, and all sorts of equipment had to be researched. The connection to science, even while not being a scientist, was captivating. I was hooked and have remained so, for more than 30 years.

LD: Is there a particular facility you’ve worked on that stands out in your mind? What is it and why do you remember it?
KE: I was the programmer for all the technical spaces at the new NOAA and Southwest Fisheries Replacement Facility in La Jolla, across the street from cliffs fronting on the Pacific Ocean. The PIs and the administrative and facilities people were all great to work with. These are people devoted to our environment. Working through a complex program on a sloped site that had been considered undevelopable was inspiring, and the solution, with LEED Gold as a mandate, was amazing: a stepped and layered floor plan provides green roofs, ocean views for the surrounding community were retained and a test tank of half a million gallons of water recesses into the hillside.

LD: What’s your favorite piece of architecture, lab-related or not?
KE: There are many, all very different—but among my local favorites, Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute stands out. The connection to the evocative ocean view has been celebrated for more than 50 years. A close second is the Getty Museum by Richard Meier. It is a transporting place to be, like another world that ordinary people are allowed to experience.

LD: If you had to do something else for a living, what would it be?
KE:
I would have liked to be a forest ranger. This may seem strange coming from an architect who finds the energy of cities to be invigorating, but the appeal of experiencing nature is to know the world for what it actually is.

LD: What would you tell young people if you wanted to encourage them to join your line of work?
KE:
You will be a part of moving the world, using your abilities and training to make it a better place. What emerges from the fields of science and technology is amazing, and you will contribute to it.

LD: Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers of Laboratory Design?
KE:
Architecture is a way to participate in shaping the world, and every aspect is important, no matter which. Science continually produces our evolving world, and lab planning is an exciting way to be a part of that evolution. 

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