The opening day of the 2018 Laboratory Design Conference, featuring expert presentations by lab design industry professionals as well as the reveal of the 2018 Laboratory of the Year winners, was a resounding success. Day Two of the 17th annual event—held at the Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown Hotel in Philadelphia, Pa.— continued this enthusiasm, kicking of its morning session with a Keynote that coincided with the Conference’s theme, “The Future of Lab Design: Innovations & Strategies.”

The second day Keynote, “Technology’s Transformation of Lab Design: There’s No Such Thing as “Future Proofing,” was presented by Brian Kowalchuk, AIA, LEED AP, of HDR. Kowalchuk explored how technology and data are “flipping the switch” on traditional research building and laboratory typologies by impacting the intuitive nature of how buildings are used today—and more importantly, how buildings might be used in the future. The discussion dove into how technology and data can influence—and even manage—user behaviors by radically shifting the perceptions of how people interact with their physical environments. Attendees learned whether “future proofing” buildings is even possible based on the rapid advancements of the technology and data. This Keynote was presented as part of the Marketing Trends & Innovations track.

New Technology and Emerging Trends

The morning program continued with “New Building Automation Technology for Sustainable Laboratories,” delivered by Jim Coogan, PE, of Siemens. Under the Sustainable Lab Design Track, this session identified the variety of ways that lab workers influence energy consumption in a facility. It explained how all lab building users—operators, energy managers, EHS officers, lab managers and scientists—can collaborate in efficient, effective operation of their facility. Attendees learned how to implement a comprehensive setback strategy, including heating, cooling, ventilation and lighting for a truly “occupant-responsive building.”

Offered as part of the Marketing Trends & Innovations track, “Trends in Neuroscience Research Facilities: From Wet Labs to Big Data”—presented by Alex Munoz and Sven Shockey, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, of SmithGroupJJR—focused on the uptick in neuroscience projects and funding. The session explained best practices and design considerations in neuroscience lab design, and helped attendees acquire an understanding of varied lab types within neuroscience programs.

Here Come the Robots

Clark Nexsen’s Patrick O'Keefe, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, presented “Rise of the Machines: Robotics and AI Spark a Lab Evolution” as part of the Market Trends and Innovations track. O’Keefe discussed the industry’s desire to explore robotics and AI as a means to create a more efficient lab space. He examined whether these new technologies can actually save space in the lab, as well as whether they can cut down on the mundane tasks that top flight research talent has to perform.

The Accelerated Lab

Also on the agenda was “The 15 Week Lab Building,” delivered by Chris Cowansage and Regal Leftwich of Page/SST Planners, and Jay Woodburn, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, of Baskervill. This presentation outlined a non-traditional delivery method and how it affects the normal delivery process. It provided invaluable insight for owner representatives, such as facility and project managers, in terms of what to expect from an accelerated delivery model. Architects, designers and laboratory planners were invited to consider an accelerated delivery format.

“Day Two of the 2018 Laboratory Design Conference built on the expert knowledge offered by our speakers on Day One,” said Bea Riemschneider, Editorial Director/Conference Chair for Laboratory Design. “Lab designer experts from many different industries were able to benefit from our rich, varied program of topics as well as the unique opportunity to interact with their colleagues and peers.”