Turn your lab vision into reality: How do you make a successful lab design?

February 02, 2023 | Lab Furniture

Ever wondered why some research facilities produce more patents and have greater throughput than others given the same amount of space and time? The truth is, not all labs are created equal, and getting these spaces right is critical for working scientists and for science to push forward.

Great lab design entails multi-process planning, integrating the basic program elements into the highly technical blocks into a lesser space while having that architectural and engineering balance. The CRB Group and their lab design team provided 8 evidence-based research to bring their clients’ ultimate lab vision to life. Here’s a summary: 

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Plan for success

Having a design kickoff meeting or a planning session with the major stakeholders is important so that a decision can be made regarding the purpose of the space and how it will be used. This serves as an avenue to review the client’s preferences and understand what works culturally for that certain working environment. Sometimes, this might involve a high-level visioning process in conjunction with practical approaches in order to bring fresh configuration to the mix.

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Compile an equipment wish list 

In selecting equipment, it's crucial to think about what will be used more in the long run. This allows for additional utilities and floor space. Equipment selection does affect aspects of the lab planning: spatial planning, type of benching, determining the power/data/backup power requirements, and for plumbing and HVAC services.  

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Know your system requirements 

Gathering information on the necessary utilities is a top priority. Lab owners should be able to ask themselves pertinent questions on HVAC, plumbing/piping, and electrical-related concerns. Good judgment is required. This agenda tends to be more prescriptive and there is an equal need for balancing safety with sustainability and cost-effectiveness.

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Define lab capacity 

Capacity is a variable component, defined by either the output or the number of personnel. Having a comprehensive and detailed understanding of the lab process is of great help. This can help save future costs.  

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Creating flexibility 

Accommodating new tech and renovating is about adapting to the changing times. Incorporating modular layouts with adaptable workspaces can be a very effective and efficient approach to the culture and the environment of the research. As opposed to a traditional lab layout that’s unidirectional, a modular layout allows for more freedom, displaying work for touring and increasing the linear feet.

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Safety first 

Lab workers should be protected by sufficient equipment and safety infrastructure that are up-to-date with modern safety guidelines. Auditing the equipment (having an inventory management system), using good signage, establishing tour routes, and when and how to install the latest solutions should be considered.  

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Bringing in the Human Factor 

Heightened focus on employee wellness and good workflow are vital in encouraging happy workers. This includes creating bright, social spaces. For instance, bringing the outdoors in with views of natural light brought an increase in productivity, job satisfaction, work involvement, and organizational attachment. Furthermore, having collaboration zones provides a comfortable space for face-face interaction, sharing, and creativity.

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Taking ergonomics seriously boosts productivity. Important lab features that contribute to a comfortable and safe work environment include positioning a workstation for easy access to instrumentation, robotic automation, proper and ambient task lighting, adjustable chairs, and other ergonomically beneficial furniture and fixtures. 

Armed with these tips, both lab owners and designers can redefine the optimum way they can design their workspace.  

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