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Home > Design Guidance > Building Types > Research Facilities > Academic Laboratory

This Building Type page will further elabo rate o n the attributes and characteristics o f Academic Labo rato ries.

Within This Page Overview Building Attributes Emerging Issues Application Relevant Codes and Standards Major Resources

An academic labo rato ry inco rpo rates a number o f space types to meet the needs o f the students, teachers, faculty, staff, and visito rs. These may include:

Unacco mp anie d Pe rso nne l Ho using ( B arracks) Ware ho use SPAC E T YPES

Aesthetic Opportunities Air Barrier Systems in Buildings Air Decontamination VIEW ALL RELAT ED (4 5)


R e se arch Lab o rat o ry

Privat e Se ct o r Lab o rat o ry

Aesthetic Challenges


A. Types of Spaces

G o ve rnme nt Lab o rat o ry


Achieving Sustainable Site Design through Low Impact Development Practices

Animal R e se arch Facilit y Acad e mic Lab o rat o ry



O f f ice B uild ing

R e se arch Facilit ie s



Lib rarie s

Parking Facilit ie s



by Daniel Watch, Deepa Tolat, and Gary McNay Perkins + Will Last updated: 05-26-2010

Academic labo rato ry buildings are living labo rato ries that advertise, enable, excite and info rm everyo ne within range. They include bo th research and teaching labs. Academic research labs can be very similar to tho se o f the private and go vernment secto rs while teaching labs are unique to the academic secto r.



Academic Laboratory



Labo rato ry: Dry Labo rato ry: Wet Co nference / Classro o m : Fo r academic labs, the passive, fro nt-facing lecture/ discussio n ro o m is beco ming o bso lete, yielding to the team-based interactive learning theatre where everyo ne can see the faces and hear the wo rds o f all in the ro o m and tho se co nnected by the web. At Wallenberg Hall at Stanfo rd University, there is no fixed furniture and the space can serve fo rmal presentatio ns, dynamic team based activities and suppo rt virtual co ncerts. Ro o ms like this are designed to allo w small teams to wo rk to gether in additio n to dynamic full ro o m discussio ns. So phisticated audio speakers and micro pho nes, image capture



cameras and immediate digital co nnectio ns to science co mmunities aro und the wo rld are the no rm. In medium-to -large lecture ro o ms, triple pro jecto r screens are co mmo n with co mbinatio n rear pro jectio n and o r flat panel mo nito r systems o ften served by multiple co mputers with a single wireless co ntro l fo r the lights, blacko ut screens, and electro nic media. These enviro nments allo w a view o f the audience with the ro o m fully illuminated; a view o f the remo te lo catio n; and a view o f the info rmatio n being shared in any co mbinatio n, while capturing the entire event fo r future use. Audito rium Office Library Auto mated Data Pro cessing: Mainframe Auto mated Data Pro cessing: PC System General Sto rage Light Industrial Lo ading Do ck Lo bby

B. Teaching Laborat ories To day's teaching labo rato ry acts as a flexible framewo rk, ho lding dynamic student wo rk gro ups, research zo nes, and suppo rt equipment in unlimited arrangements. As such, new design strategies must be put in place to address the needs o f academic labo rato ry facilities: Plan fo r the unexpected. To o many buildings are designed fo r current needs and techno lo gies. Buildings must have extra po wer, data, co o ling, and space o ver and abo ve the minimum current requirements to serve the future. The Science Center provides a state- ofAs disciplinary barriers disso lve, there is a the- art setting for innovative teaching greater need fo r labs and experimental spaces to and research in the sciences and stage special sho rt and lo ng-term events. mathematics at Spelman College, Scheduling challenges will beco me mo re difficult Atlanta, GA. and the buildings and their techno lo gies must be ready to adapt. Special visualizatio n and virtual reality labs are beco ming co mmo n elements o f new science buildings, with a dramatic impact o n the way space will be used. Perso nal digital devices that merge all co mputing, co mmunicatio n, and lo cating techno lo gies will so o n be co mmo n. Theses devices will need to co nnect with netwo rks embedded in buildings o r furniture to create a seamless net o f info rmatio n access and sharing. Sustainable design is a basic respo nsibility and sho uld serve as a research, teaching, and po licy-changing to o l. Buildings will mo re intentio nally express the impact o f day-lighting

strategies, the use o f lo cal and recyclable materials, will sho w o ff o n-site wastewater and sto rm water systems strategies, and will be mo re tho ughtfully and actively integrated into their sites. Building planners and o wners must clearly understand where they are o n the techno lo gy co ntinuum and design to embrace the mo st current techno lo gy while creating a framewo rk fo r the best techno lo gies that will co me. Teaching labo rato ries differ fro m research labs in a number o f ways. They require space fo r teaching equipment, such as a lectern and marker bo ards; they require sto rage space fo r student micro sco pes, bo o k bags, and co ats; and they have less instrumentatio n than in research labs. Also , teaching labs must suppo rt a wide range o f dynamic activity fro m standard lectures to active team-based inquiry with all the to o ls and techno lo gy necessary to enable any teaching and learning task easily. Interactio n o f learners and teachers o ccupying the same ro o m has beco me mo re intentio nal, flexible and transparent to eliminate barriers and energize immediate and seamless co llabo ratio n. Classro o ms must pro vide a greater level o f visual and audito ry co ntact between tho se sharing the ro o m, and tho se beyo nd, to meet a higher standard o f service to co llabo ratio n. Virtual reality and co mputer simulatio n techno lo gies require mo re flexible space to serve these rapidly gro wing fields. Spaces must respo nd by beco ming mo re flexible, changeable, and attuned to the senses. Lighting and aco ustic co ntro l must be mo re so phisticated and flexible in every ro o m, to allo w the varied techno lo gies to perfo rm at their best. Po werful image capture and audio techno lo gy is beco ming mo re pervasive in ro o ms, including o ffices, where peo ple share info rmatio n. Aco ustic co ntro l and the design o f the HVAC systems must be mo re so phisticated and flexible in every ro o m, to allo w the varied techno lo gies to perfo rm at their best. The so und level in labo rato ries —including tho se with fume ho o ds—must be as lo w as the classro o ms' to allo w no rmal co nversatio ns and co llabo ratio n. Lighting systems are mo re energy efficient and typically include daylight senso rs and o ccupancy senso rs. In all spaces, the co ntro l o f the lighting is mo re adjustable to serve the varied presentatio n techno lo gies and changes in scientific events that o ccur in each space. So me disciplines will require fixed casewo rk, benches, and utilities, but many teaching labs have mo bile casewo rk (equipped with lo cks) installed in a way that allo ws fo r different teaching enviro nments and fo r multiple classes to be taught in the same space. So me teaching labs even use casewo rk that a student can easily change in height to acco mmo date sit-do wn (30 in.) o r stand-up (36 in.) wo rk. The flexibility o f the furniture enco urages a variety o f teaching and learning scenario s. In fact, pro perties o f traditio nal, fixed lab furniture (stability and vibratio n resistance) are merging with pro perties o f ro lling/adjustable co mputer furniture (infinite mo bility, plug and play capability, changeability) to create a new type o f furniture fo r mo st scientific pursuits. This new breed blends the need fo r co mputer co nnectio ns to everything with the ability to change the individual and team wo rk enviro nment immediately, o r mo ve it to ano ther space. The additio nal co st o f flexible furniture is o ffset by the amo unt o f space saved by eliminating the requirement fo r separate sit-do wn and stand-up wo rkstatio ns.

Depending o n the discipline and number o f students, shared bench space can range fro m 15 to 30 linear feet per teaching labo rato ry; is usually co nfigured as perimeter wall bench o r center island bench; and is used fo r benchto p instruments, exhibiting displays, o r distributing glass materials. Ten to 20 linear feet o f wall space per lab sho uld be left available fo r sto rage cabinets, as well as fo r built-in and mo vable equipment such as refrigerato rs and incubato rs. A typical student wo rkstatio n is 3 to 4 feet wide with a file cabinet and data and electrical ho o kups fo r co mputers. Fume ho o ds shared by two students sho uld be at least 6 ft. wide. The distance between student wo rkbenches and fume ho o ds sho uld be minimized to lessen the po ssibility o f chemical spills. Fo r undergraduate co urses, write-up areas are usually pro vided inside the lab. (Write-up areas fo r graduate students are generally lo cated o utside the lab, in o ffices.) A teaching lab must acco mmo date mo re peo ple (i.e., students) and sto o ls than do es a typical research lab. Prep ro o ms, which allo w faculty to set up supplies View enlarged plan befo re classes, may be View enlarged plan Teaching lab caswork options. Flexible teaching lab designs. lo cated between two teaching labs. The number o f students typically enro lled in a co urse usually determines the size o f the teaching lab used fo r that co urse. A typical lab mo dule o f 10 ft. 6 in. x 30 ft. (320 net square feet [nsf]) may suppo rt fo ur to six students. An o rganic chemistry lab fo r 24 students wo uld be appro ximately 1,6 0 0 nsf. Usually there is very little, if any, o verhead shelving in the center o f a lab. Overhead sto rage is at the perimeter walls, and the center o f the lab has o nly base cabinets so as to maintain better sight lines fo r teaching and learning. Lab co urses are co mmo nly taught fro m 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. fro m Mo nday thro ugh Friday. As budgets tighten and co ntinuing educatio n and distance learning co ntinue to gro w in po pularity, ho wever, evening and Saturday classes may beco me mo re co mmo n in many co lleges and universities. Mo reo ver, so me teaching labs being designed to day will also be used fo r research. Because o f these reaso ns, mechanical systems sho uld be designed to be able to run at full capacity 24 ho urs a day, seven days a week. Also , a flexible design is reco mmended to acco mmo date enro llment fluctuatio ns. A separate discussio n ro o m shared by several teaching labs may be an alternative to acco mmo dating lectures in the lab. Teaching labs may be lo cated adjacent to research labs in o rder to share reso urces. Fo r example, if adjacent, advanced o rganic and ino rganic chemistry labs and intro ducto ry chemistry labs can share so me equipment.

C. Int egrat ing Teaching and Research Labs As the need fo r flexibility has gro wn and as science instructio n, even at the undergraduate level, fo cuses mo re and mo re o n hands-o n experience, the traditio nal View enlarged plan View enlarged plan distinctio n between Integrated teaching and research teaching and lab designs. research labs beco mes less impo rtant. An increasing number o f institutio ns are integrating these areas to enhance undergraduate curricula and to facilitate co mmunicatio n between faculty and students at all levels. The greatest variances between teaching and research labs are space allo catio n and equipment needs. To co mpensate fo r tho se differences, so me new facilities are designed with greater flexibility to allo w lab space to be mo re adaptable and pro ductive. There are several reaso ns fo r creating "ho mo geno us" lab facilities: Students at all levels are intro duced to current techniques. Such facilities enco urage interactio n between faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates. A standard labo rato ry mo dule with basic services acco mmo dates change quickly and eco no mically. Co mmo n and specialized equipment may be shared. Co mmo n facilities can share suppo rt spaces, such as instrument ro o ms, prep ro o ms, and specialty ro o ms. Greater utilizatio n o f space and equipment enhances pro ject co st justificatio n. Teaching labs can be used fo r faculty research during semester breaks. BACK TO TO P

EMERGING ISSUES Technology in Academic Laborat ories Few things are mo re co mpelling than a public display o f learning. Large and small scale events and interactio ns sho uld be enco uraged by a building's easy access to simple techno lo gies, including po wer and wireless netwo rks – inside, o utside, and at the student center and lo cal cafÊ. Entrances and public greeting spaces must make the first impressio n unfo rgettable. A mix o f scientific displays, interactive flat panel screens and real-time o r digital video views into best teaching and research labs in actio n sho uld be a basic requirement. The design sho uld pro vide an unlimited access to the rich wo rld o f disco very.

Smart bo ard techno lo gy allo ws immediate capture o f the pro jected image and anything written o n the surface while surfing the web. The smart bo ard type to uch-screen interface creates an impressive and engaging presentatio n in the hands o f a skillful user. Mo vable tables, equipment carts, and mo bile lab casewo rk will change the way students interact o vernight, in respo nse to pedago gical, curricular, o r techno lo gy changes. Many teaching and research labs that do no t require water and piped gases at each student po sitio n have fixed permanent casewo rk and plumbing at the perimeter o f the ro o m o nly, with mo vable tables and wheeled casewo rk pro viding the student wo rk statio ns. The ro o m co nfiguratio ns are limited o nly by the ro o m size and o ur imaginatio n. Overhead service carriers pro vide the hard-wired services needed at the mo vable tables. The co st and physical weight o f lab furniture will begin to decrease, while the adaptability will increase. Teachers no lo nger have to be ancho red to the po dium o r fixed techno lo gy platfo rm. Using wireless co mputing and media co ntro ls, drawing and no ting o n the pro jected image o r multiple images fro m any co mputer so urce in the ro o m are po ssible. Wireless pro jecto rs pro vide picture-in-picture displays, are partnered with ceiling-mo unted do cument cameras and can receive and pro ject images fro m any wireless tablet o r lapto p in the ro o m. Smart techno lo gies allo w the faculty to see the screen o f every student co mputer in the ro o m to track attentio n and pro gress. Labs no w co mbine the best media co ntro l features o f a techno lo gy-rich classro o m with tho se o f the mo st flexible lab. A lab may include o ne o r two full teaching statio ns fo r pro jected and/o r chalkbo ard presentatio ns. The media systems and lighting fo r the lab are managed by a media co ntro l system that can be wall-mo unted, desk-mo unted o r included in a remo te wireless pad which can be carried aro und the ro o m. Internet reso urces, past lectures, and the full media infrastructure o f the campus is easily accessed and displayed in any lab o r classro o m in the building. Faculty (and students) can be anywhere in the ro o m and co ntro l the presentatio n techno lo gy fo r their teaching lab o r classro o m. So o n partners in o ther cities o r co untries will be able to access the pro jecto r (with pro per security permissio ns), sharing images and data real-time. Research labs must include a ro bust techno lo gical infrastructure accessible o n-demand fo r an unpredictable range o f unique o ppo rtunities. In so me cases all elements o f a research setting may be o n wheels o r demo untable. An example o f this plug-and-play appro ach in use in a pure research setting is the Bio -X initiative at the Clark Center at Stanfo rd. The building was planned fo r almo st any research use, witho ut making any space specific to any single use o r discipline. All lab furniture is o n wheels and can be do cked to o verhead services in any co nfiguratio n imaginable. Special scientific equipment that was typically held in a few ro o ms designed o nly fo r that purpo se is no w distributed in instrument ro o ms, student faculty research labs and teaching labs. Mo re ro bust and mo re adaptable electrical and mechanical systems must be designed to allo w the distributio n o f such equipment thro ugho ut the building. Clients are pushing pro ject design teams to create research labo rato ries that are respo nsive to current and future needs; that enco urage interactio n amo ng scientists fro m vario us disciplines; that help recruit and retain qualified scientists; and that facilitates partnerships and develo pment. As such, a separate WBDG Reso urce Page o n Trends in Labo rato ry Design has been develo ped

to elabo rate o n this emerging mo del o f labo rato ry design. BACK TO TO P

APPLICAT ION Represent at ive Example Flo rida Atlantic University, Charles E. Schmidt Bio medical Science Center , Bo ca Rato n, FL, Architect: Perkins + Will Co mpletio n: Fall 20 0 1 Size: 9 0 ,0 0 0 gsf

Charles E. Schmidt Biomedical Science Center—Boca Raton, FL (Courtesy of STH Architectural Group, Inc.)

Flo rida Atlantic University has created a new co ncept that co mbines bo th o pen and clo sed labs to acco mmo date co re research teams. Many researchers still prefer to have so me research space o f their o wn. Co nsequently, 6 40 nsf are pro vided fo r each researcher, primarily fo r his o r her o wn use and specific equipment. Ano ther 6 40 nsf have been pro grammed fo r each researcher, lo cated in a large o pen lab. This lab has fume ho o ds, laminar flo w ho o ds, equipment, and casewo rk to be shared by the entire research team. There can be a variety o f research co re areas (8 2 ft. x 8 2 ft.) o n the seco nd and third flo o rs. Ano ther idea implemented in this facility is a two -directio nal grid that allo ws the casewo rk to be o rganized in either the no rth/so uth o r east/west o rientatio n. This pro vides fo r maximum flexibility and allo ws the researchers to create labs that meet their needs. The labs are arranged with 50 percent casewo rk and 50 percent equipment zo nes. The equipment zo nes allo w the research team to lo cate equipment, mo bile casewo rk, o r fixed casewo rk in their lab when they mo ve in. The equipment and future casewo rk will be funded with o ther budgets o r grants. This co ncept is very impo rtant fo r this pro ject fo r two reaso ns. First, the university has no t yet hired the faculty, so the specific research requirements are still unkno wn. Seco nd, this co ncept reduces the casewo rk co st in the initial co nstructio n budget by at least 40 percent ($6 0 0 ,0 0 0 ). The co st will be added to the furniture budget when the mo bile casewo rk is purchased. The interio r design is being develo ped with the use o f the three-dimensio nal (3-D) mo deling. Co mputer mo deling gives the design team, and mo st impo rtantly, the client, an o ppo rtunity to

study all aspects o f the interio r spaces as they will exist when the pro ject is co mpleted. The 3-D mo deling also ensures that all design decisio ns are tho ughtfully reso lved by the end o f the design develo pment pro cess. Co ncept diagrams fo r all the engineering systems are fully co o rdinated at the end o f the schematic design phase. Creating these diagrams gets the engineers invo lved in the design, makes sure the design team has fully co o rdinated all systems in the building (no t just architectural), and sho uld simplify co o rdinatio n fo r the rest o f the pro ject. The intent here is to be pro active early in the design pro cess so as to reduce the number o f change o rders during co nstructio n. See also WBDG 'Who le Buildings' Appro ach . The building is zo ned with lab and no n-lab spaces to decrease o verall co nstructio n co sts. BACK TO TO P

RELEVANT CODES AND STANDARDS The fo llo wing agencies and o rganizatio ns have develo ped co des and standards affecting the design o f research labo rato ries. No te that the co des and standards are minimum requirements. Architects, engineers, and co nsultants sho uld co nsider exceeding the applicable requirements whenever po ssible. 29 CFR 19 10 .1450 : OSHA—Occupatio nal Expo sures to Hazardo us Chemicals in Labo rato ries ANSI/AIHA—American National Standard Z9.5 for Laboratory Ventilation ASHRAE 110 Method of Testing Performance of Laboratory Fume Hoods ASHRAE Applications Handbook , Chapter 14 Labo rato ries ASHRAE Laboratory Design Guide Asso ciatio n fo r Assessment and Accreditatio n o f Labo rato ry Animal Care (AAALAC) Standards Department o f Health and Human Services, Centers fo r Disease Co ntro l and Preventio n and Natio nal Institutes o f Health—Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) 5th Edition, December 20 0 9 . Department o f Veterans Affairs— Research Laboratory Design Guide ISEA Z358.1—Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment Natio nal Institutes o f Health—NIH Design Policy and Guidelines Natio nal Institutes o f Health (NIH)—Guidelines for the Laboratory Use of Chemical Carcinogens, Pub. No. 81-2385 NFPA 30—Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code NFPA 45—Fire Protection for Laboratories using Chemical Tri-Services Unified Facilities Guide Specificatio ns (UFGS)—UFGS, o rganized by MasterFo rmat™ divisio ns, are fo r use in specifying co nstructio n fo r the military services. Several UFGS exist fo r safety-related to pics.


MAJOR RESOURCES WBDG Building / Space Types Research Facilities, Research Labo rato ry, Go vernment Labo rato ry, Private Secto r Labo rato ry, Animal Research Facility, Office Building, Labo rato ry: Dry, Labo rato ry: Wet Design Objectives Accessible, Aesthetics, Co st-Effective, Functio nal / Operatio nal , Pro ductive, Secure / Safe , Sustainable Project Management Building Co mmissio ning

Publicat ions Building Type Basics for Research Laboratories, 2nd Edition by Daniel Watch. New Yo rk: Jo hn Wiley & So ns, Inc., 20 0 8 . ISBN# 9 78 -0 -470 -16 333-7. CRC Handbook of Laboratory Safety, 5th ed. by A. K. Furr. Bo ca Rato n, FL: CRC Press, 20 0 0 . Design and Planning of Research and Clinical Laboratory Facilities by Leo nard Mayer. New Yo rk, NY: Jo hn Wiley & So ns, 19 9 5. Design for Research: Principals of Laboratory Architecture by Susan Braybro o ke. New Yo rk, NY: Jo hn Wiley & So ns, 19 9 3. Guidelines for Laboratory Design: Health and Safety Considerations, 3rd Edition DiBerardinis, et al. New Yo rk, NY: Jo hn Wiley & So ns, 20 0 1.

by Lo uis J.

Guidelines for Planning and Design of Biomedical Research Laboratory Facilities by The American Institute o f Architects, Center fo r Advanced Techno lo gy Facilities Design. Washingto n, DC: The American Institute o f Architects, 19 9 9 . Handbook of Facilities Planning, Vol. 1: Laboratory Facilities by T. Ruys. New Yo rk, NY: Van No strand Reinho ld, 19 9 0 . Laboratories, A Briefing and Design Guide by Walter Hain. Lo ndo n, UK: E & FN Spo n, 19 9 5. Laboratory by Earl Walls Asso ciates May 20 0 0 . Laboratory Design fro m the Edito rs o f R&D Magazine. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product by Natio nal Research Co uncil, Co mmittee o n Design, Co nstructio n, and Reno vatio n o f Labo rato ry Facilities. Washingto n, DC: Natio nal Academy Press, 20 0 0 . Planning Academic Research Facilities: A Guidebook by Natio nal Science Fo undatio n. Washingto n, DC, 19 9 2. Science and Engineering Research Facilities at Colleges and Universities by Natio nal

Science Fo undatio n, Divisio n o f Science Reso urces Studies. Arlingto n, VA, 19 9 8 .

Ot hers Labo rato ries fo r the 21st Century (Labs21) —Spo nso red by the U.S. Enviro nmental Pro tectio n Agency and the U.S. Department o f Energy, Labs21 is a vo luntary pro gram dedicated to impro ving the enviro nmental perfo rmance o f U.S. labo rato ries. BACK TO TO P

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