Digital tools for creating cutting-edge labs
Carrier Johnson + CULTURE
Whether for research or academic use, laboratories support the advance of scientific knowledge.
As such, the teams that design and build
them bear the responsibility of conceiving
effective workspaces for boundary-break-ing research and flexible experimentation.
In recent years, laboratory designers have
seen significant developments in lab
layouts, equipment and systems, a great
deal of which can be attributed to parallel
advances in digital technologies.
In this context, today’s leading project
teams are applying more sophisticated
digital tools to fine-tune designs and
streamline construction processes—
even to assist in managing laboratory
operations long after the project is built,
occupied and up and running. Some lab
users have even enjoyed trying on these
cutting-edge methods in their projects,
too. Among the favored tools are virtu-
al reality (VR), which boosts intuitive
insights and communication capabilities
among project teams. VR’s promise is
that clients see what they’re going to get,
and design teams can be more efficient
in responding to new laboratory needs or
changes in research processes.
A related technique is mixed-reality,
which allows the blending of real-world
objects with digital content for better
project documentation. In this way,
laboratory design teams can work better
and faster with construction crews and
specialty contractors where information
flow has often been difficult, especially
in key stages of the building process.
A second class of technology increasingly employed is digital fabrication.
This can go beyond 3-D printing of
hand-sized models, for example, and
instead bring in computer-numeric-con-trolled (CNC) machining—basically
robotic fabrication and manufacturing—allowing the prototyping and
production of full-scale components for
laboratory benches, hardware and equipment platforms.
Third, our clients and projects teams
have found increasing benefits in the
use of building information modeling
(BIM). Everyone knows this cost-effective approach to creating and storing
The laser-cut metal screen in front of the new science center at Point Loma Nazarene University is partly the result of computer numerical controlled (CNC) machining.