Philadelphia welcomed a record number of lab design professionals to the 17th annual Laboratory Design Conference on April 23-25. This year’s theme, “The Future of Lab Design: Innovations & Strategies,” focused on evolving technology and research. The opening Keynote, “The Lab of the Future: Designing ‘Effective’ Labs,” by Daniel Wentzlaff of Nissen Wentzlaff Architects and Dario Tonelli of Laborplaner Tonelli AG, reflected this theme by discussing a new digital age where accessible knowledge is doubling every four to five years.

General Sessions and breakouts at the Laboratory Design Conference were grouped into one of three tracks—Marketing Trends & Innovations, which explored how budget, technology and flexibility all factor into the future of lab design; Lab Design Strategies, offering advice and helpful tips to those involved in the design and construction of lab facilities; and Sustainable Lab Design, which focused on energy savings and being “green” when building or renovating a lab.

The Opening Keynote was followed by “The Next Generation of Animal Research Facilities,” a General Session presented by Josh Meyer, AIA, of Jacobs Consultancy. Josh explained how animal research facilities are going through a metamorphosis, with an inside look at the latest trends and issues in vivaria design. He also presented a virtual tour of recently completed and in-design animal facilities that graphically demonstrate the transformation of vivaria. A second General Session in the afternoon was entitled, “Moving Towards the Light: Collaboration and Productivity in Tomorrow’s Laboratory,” delivered by Cynthia Walston, FAIA, LEED AP, and Robert Benson of CannonDesign. Cynthia and Robert talked about how lab designers are promoting open, flexible and collaborative lab and office spaces to increase discovery and productivity. Breakout sessions were interspersed between the General Sessions, covering topics such as sustainability initiatives, renovations, collaboration, ergonomics and new technology. 

Day One concluded with the reveal of the 2018 Laboratory of the Year winners. CJ Blossom Park took home the top prize, and the Aerospace and Engineering Sciences Building, Metropolitan State University of Denver, was awarded Laboratory of the Year Special Mention. Detailed articles about both facilities can be found in this issue of Laboratory Design

The Keynote on Day Two was “Technology’s Transformation of Lab Design: There’s No Such Thing as ‘Future Proofing,’” by Brian Kowalchuk, AIA, LEED AP, of HDR. Brian talked about how technology and data can influence, and even manage, user behaviors by radically shifting the perceptions of how people interact with their physical environments. The Keynote was followed by breakout sessions on graphic design, cost control, robotics and AI, engineering concerns and case studies. 

Attendees were encouraged to visit the Exhibit Hall between sessions and during special networking coffee breaks to see and talk about industry products and services, as well as mingle with colleagues and pursue new professional connections. Day Two concluded with an all-new feature for the Laboratory Design Conference—a community engagement forum entitled, “Mentoring the Next Generation of Lab Design Professionals,” where five experts shared their thoughts on attracting and retaining young employees interested in the field of lab design. 

Tours of five exemplary lab facilities were offered as part of the Laboratory Design Conference experience. Details of these innovative buildings are available on  

Thank you to all attendees and staff members who made the 2018 Laboratory Design Conference such a great success. We hope you will join us on April 29-May 1, 2019, as the Laboratory Design Conference heads to Orlando! See for info.