Successful laboratories are the result of extensive planning, collaboration, and coordination between the design team and all impacted stakeholders. Even the smallest detail, performed incorrectly, can have a detrimental impact on lab function and safety – so getting these spaces right for the scientists working in them is critical.
1. Involve all stakeholders in your design kick-off meeting.
This group potentially includes many people and many different perspectives, but gathering those differing viewpoints provides
an invaluable foundation. Failing to involve a comprehensive stakeholder group at project kick-off and in early design decisions
will almost certainly result in a cascade of future problems impacting design, construction, and long-term lab use.
2. Size the lab to meet user requirements.
A failure to effectively size the lab to meet user requirements can result in inadequate bench and equipment storage space,
inflexibility or limited growth, and limited functionality in the lab.
3. Determine control areas early in design.
With emerging design trends geared toward transparency and “research on display,” determining necessary control areas early in
design enables lab planners and architects to create a building design that features desirable aesthetics – and meets all code and
safety requirements. Primarily, determining control areas early in design focuses on defining the type and quantity of the chemicals
that may be used in the lab to understand the impact on the overall design
4. Plan for chemical storage.
In any lab setting with heavy chemistry and chemical experiments, planning for appropriate and adequate storage is critical to avoid
potential safety hazards and code issues.
5. Coordinate fume hoods with HVAC control system.
For lab safety, containment, and pressurization purposes, lab planners must work closely with the team’s mechanical engineers to
ensure coordination between the fume hoods and the HVAC control system.
6. Collaborate with mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineers to ensure well-coordinated drawings.
To develop well-coordinated drawings, the lab planner, architect, and MEP engineers must work together and back-check drawings
7. Get a solid, comprehensive equipment list.
Part of the lab planning role must involve guiding the client to obtain the information you need – particularly because of your
primary contact maybe someone who isn’t familiar with each nuance of lab equipment or your data needs. Obtaining a list with
detailed information is fundamental to the lab layout, touching issues such as:
• Spatial planning of the lab;
• Determination of what type of casework on which to place equipment;
• Understanding power, data, and backup power requirements; and
• Planning for plumbing and HVAC services.
8. Consider equipment heat gains.
Considering equipment heat gains and coordinating with the mechanical engineer is fundamental to lab function, particularly for
those spaces with heat-generating equipment such as ultralow freezers, refrigerators, or centrifuges.
9. Check door widths, turning clearances, and equipment paths throughout the facility.
There are a variety of scenarios that potentially make fixed casework a better selection than flexible or mobile casework.
10. Know when and when not to use flexible casework.
In an increasingly competitive and rapidly changing world, flexible casework can provide the ultimate laboratory benefit.
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