LaboratoryDesign|SEP|OCT 2013 7
Modern lab design’s slow resurgence,
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Institutions and corporations took more conservative approaches
to facility development, leading to fewer new construction projects,
some renovation work and more studies to plan for capital improvements. Others shelved plans altogether as federal spending decreased
significantly and state spending on academic labs remained spotty.
Enrollments increased at universities—both private and state—but
their budgets didn’t include expansion of new facilities, resulting in renovations to accommodate a growing numbers of students and researchers. Some AEC firms noted owners who sought to renovate existing
facilities for labs, did so without understanding the physical condition,
existing constraints and program compatibility of the buildings, resulting in cost impacts and hindering future flexibility.
“General cost reductions have led to a more reactive approach, seeking to reduce costs and schedules without addressing the overall strategy
and future vision,” says Barbara Bouza, AID, LEED AP, EDAC, principal, Gensler, Los Angeles. In order to cut first costs, AEC firms noted
some clients were inclined to re-use old equipment rather than purchasing new, impacting energy efficiency and increasing downtime.
Many institutions looked for generic labs in the hopes of achieving
long-term flexibility. “This one-size-fits-all approach to lab design
can lock buildings into being inflexible when it comes to the types of
research activities that take place,” says Jeffrey Puleo, AIA, LEED AP,
assoc. principal, Wilson Architects, Boston. “A building may be flexible,
in terms of space, but not adaptable to individual research needs.”
In an effort to launch projects, many clients underestimated the
realistic costs of designing and building lab facilities. “Institutions and
companies did little building during the recession, resulting in signifi-
cant pent-up demand. However, they are understandably conservative
about launching new projects and often establish lower budgets in order
to get approval to proceed,” says Steven Gifford, Director of Science &
Technology, Perkins Eastman, N. Y.
Today, the lab design process is characterized by a “more, faster,
smarter” mindset. Lab owners may need to maximize funds in a short
timeframe. Designers are developing learner processes for delivering
projects and leveraging technology—like BIM—as a means of doing so.
The question has remained: How can we get more science into less
space? The answer is simple, but complex in execution: Do more with less.
Not all outcomes of the recession were negative. As the North
American market shrank, the industry “saw a significant increase in the
number of national and global institutional and private collaborations,”
according to Richard Kobus, FAIA, FACHA, senior principal, Tsoi/Kobus
& Associates, Cambridge, Mass. “People are getting creative about fund-
ing and seeking partnerships to pool resources.”
In the past five years, research has become increasingly complex and
“translational” and requires the “skills and resources not traditionally
available in a single lab setting, nor within a single clinical setting,” says
Meredith Bostwick Lorenzo Eiroa, assoc. dir.ector, Skidmore, Owings &
Merrill (SOM), N. Y. Collaboration has been crucial for AEC clients, and
organizations that pooled resources and sought funding to create state-
of-the-art lab environments achieved truly innovative goals.
The last five years also marked an increase in the level of scrutiny
applied to projects to assure maximum ROI. The early design process
demands greater economic analysis of lifecycle costs to reduce operating
and energy costs and optimize environmental performance.
“There has been a focus on energy-conservation measures over the past few