Effective planning is critical for a successful laboratory build-out. It is essential to identify and build spaces that are adequately sized and compatible with the science involved, especially on a quick launch timeline. Here are some things to do before your laboratory build-out project:
Any lab renovation or build-out starts with space programming to determine a base square footage required for workspaces, equipment, and forecasted headcounts. Programming also documents the square footage for facility and utility functions, loss (egresses, hallways, etc.), and circulation (room for moving around). Once you determine your base square footage, you can search for spaces that are the right size for your future and current operational demands.
Successful space programming requires input from all stakeholders, lab occupants, scientists, and doctors to establish the pre-design specifications and determine the lab’s specific needs, like radioactive labs and tissue culture rooms. Programming also includes process flow relationships and adjacencies, like keeping the autoclave and glass wash close to a media prep area, which can increase efficiency and help shape lab design.
Engineers and architects to design your lab’s utility and spatial plans require a detailed and comprehensive equipment list. This list should include power requirements, equipment dimensions, plumbing, HVAC, gas, and other elements impacting the laboratory build-out design. Also, don't forget to add forecasted equipment to allow for proper plumbing, electrical, and mechanical needs in the future. Then, when you are ready to install the equipment, there will be no need for renovations or additional construction that will interrupt lab processing.
Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) gives guidance on lab design, operation, and building system maintenance, like chemical limits, local exhaust ventilation systems, and fire safety regulations. Getting them involved in the planning stages is critical to informing your lab's overall function and design. For example, whether you choose outsourced providers or in house services, a great EH&S partner will assist in the determination of maximum chemical quantities for a given space and advise you on the storage and control areas you need for biological and chemical laboratories, which factors in the square footage required when evaluating potential locations. They will also advise on HVAC requirements for biological labs and fume hoods to keep personnel safe, which is crucial for engineers and architects planning the systems to support them.
Working with the right MEP engineer, contractor, and architect is critical to your laboratory build-out. You can minimize facility and engineering regulation errors by working with partners experienced in laboratory builds. It is even more beneficial to find partners who have worked on projects together in the past and have proven their skill in driving the planning stage and mitigating design gaps.
Experienced service providers assist in eliminating wasted money and time on errors like lab casework that interferes with electrical devices or shelving, functional and aesthetic issues that reduce lab efficiency, or installing the wrong gas pipes.