Optimizing lab design for
rapidly evolving science
continued from page 13
Labs today contain many of the same broad
programmatic elements regardless of institution: traditional wet lab space, hard-wall
support rooms and offices for researchers. Most
institutions include dry computational space as
a complement to the wet environment. Some
prefer to locate the computational areas on a
separate floor, or even a separate facility, since
the mechanical needs for this space are more
similar to office environments. Additionally,
some institutions dedicate a portion of the
space for less formal collaboration areas, which
can take many different forms depending on
need and level of emphasis. To fulfill JAX’s
mission of a highly collaborative environment,
it was desirable to locate both the dry labs and
informal collaboration spaces directly adjacent
to the wet labs. This became the focal point for
the initial lab organization concepts.
Each of the three layouts, shown at the bottom right, solves the adjacency and convertibility requirements, but not all are equal relative to
flexibility and collaboration. Pros and cons of
each configuration are:
• Highly efficient.
• Potential for isolation of PIs.
• Limits spontaneous collaboration opportunities due to office and support zone locations.
• Large hard-wall support zones prevent expansion of the lab environment.
• Reduces PI isolation by shifting offices to one
• Allows more natural light into the lab.
• Similar support zone and expansion issues.
• Breaks up the hard-wall support areas into
• Maintains reasonable travel distances to support zones.
• Improved linear expansion capability along
the exterior edges.
Ultimately JAX decided that the “T” layout
met the needs of the institution most effectively.
A major impediment to large flexible areas
is often the support rooms. Two considerations
for these areas help to alleviate this pressure:
challenge the traditional wet-to-support ratios,
and make the support rooms themselves flexible. At JAX GM, the design team reduced the
area of hard-wall support rooms and replaced it
Top: Wet-to-dry-lab ratio studies based on estimated research team numbers and ease of convertibility. Images:
Tsoi/Kobus & Associates. Bottom: Early lab configuration studies.