Opening day of the 2018 Laboratory Design Conference continued with further discussion into this year’s theme, “The Future of Lab Design: Innovations & Strategies.” The afternoon featured more breakout sessions and expert insights from leaders in the field of lab design. The day’s events concluded with the annual reveal of the Laboratory of the Year winners, and presentations from the teams behind these groundbreaking buildings where they offeredan exclusive look at what makes these prize-winning facilities so unique.

The afternoon began with the second General Session, “Moving Towards the Light: Collaboration and Productivity in Tomorrow’s Laboratory,” delivered by Cynthia Walston, FAIA, LEED AP, and Robert Benson of CannonDesign. Walston and Benson demonstrated how the style of work in the research field today is drastically shifting from individual, heads-down work to a more collaborative and innovative style that sparks connection and interaction among researchers. Laboratory designers are promoting open, flexible and collaborative lab and office spaces to increase discovery and productivity.

This General Session, as part of the Marketing Trends and Innovations track, explored how organizations are managing this change, how to judge if productivity has measurably increased, how to figure out the highest priorities in space accommodations for such work, the biggest challenges faced and how to tell if end users are satisfied with the changes made. Attendees were able to take from this session a developed knowledge of strategies for successfully presenting new workplace trends to users, as well as the results of post occupancy surveys from lab users.

“Our second General Session provided inside knowledge about how the labs of today are changing and evolving to meet the challenges of tomorrow,” said MaryBeth DiDonna, Editor of Laboratory Design. “Flexible design and collaboration is essential to making sure that research and technology continually evolve to meet current needs.”

Further discussion on flexibility and teamwork will be offered in “Planning Science Facility Collaboration Spaces,” presented by Cynthia Labelle, AIA, and Michael Reagan, RA, AIA, NCARB, both of Stantec Architecture Inc. Part of the Lab Design Strategies track, this session explored how contemporary science facilities are increasingly integrating both formal and informal interaction and collaboration areas into their Space Program. Labelle and Reagan explained how productivity can be measured in spaces like these, and how the character of these spaces compares to more formalized learning spaces.

Also part of the Lab Design Strategies track, “The Challenge for Architects: Electron Microscopes Belong on the Moon”—delivered by Brian DiLuiso, AIA, and Chip Calcagni, AIA, of E4H Environments for Health Architecture—described how health-focused academic research centers in the U.S. are investing in the electron microscope in order to understand cell structures at the subatomic level to improve diagnostics and further clinical trials. The challenge, therefore, is to design and construct a space that can house an electron microscope when planning a highly technological research facility. Outfitting a facility for this microscope technology requires deep coordination with the manufacturer, as the very stringent set of mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and HVAC requirements—coupled with room dimension and power outlet configurations—pose challenges for its placement. The role architects and designers are playing to support scientists who are transforming the understanding of cellular architecture and what triggers cancer and other diseases makes meeting this challenge all the more satisfying.

Aimee Smith of RWDI delivered “High Performance Buildings: Focus on the Health, Well-being and Comfort of Occupants,” as part of the Sustainable Lab Design track. This session explained the value of promoting the health, well-being and comfort of occupants to achieve a high performance building with reference to the WELL Building Standard®. Attendees gained insight into the benefit of considering the performance of the roof scape from a holistic perspective to address challenges from both noise and air quality conditions.

Meanwhile, Jinhee Lee, CDT, and Michele Pollio, AIA, of HERA Laboratory Planners presented, “Take the Pain Out: Smart Design to Create Ergonomic Labs.” This session, included in the Lab Design Strategies track, explored the ergonomic considerations beyond the furniture requirements and describe why such considerations are so critical in laboratory design. Lee and Pollio further detailed helpful strategies to integrate ergonomics into the design, give detailed information about life cycle cost considerations, and helped attendees learn to determine the best time to implement the human factor in the design process.

"How to Attract, Motivate and Retain Top Scientists," presented by Christopher Small of Clark Nexsen, explained how laboratory facilities can create a vibrant culture where scientist converge and thrive, and how to create collaboration zones and activities adjacent to the lab where ideas are exchanged and discovery can occur. Additionally, he advised on how to design spaces that encourage keeping the scientific workforce healthy and motivated, and how to design amenity filled facilities without increasing the project budget and decreasing the lease-ability.

A case study of Brown University’s new Engineering Research Center was examined in “The Integrated Project Delivery Method: Implementing Flexible, Integrated, High Performance Lab Design,” offered by John Swift, Jr., PE, CEM, LEED AP BD+C, of BurroHappold Engineering; Lloyd Fisk, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, of Research Facilities Design; and Mark Davis, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, of KieranTimberlake. The speakers explained how the design of the building united a disparate set of legacy buildings making up the SOE complex. Another topic of discussion-how the laboratory design strategy focused on the creation of highly flexible convergence research laboratories, designed only after construction of the building had commenced. The design team will also describe how the project was designed to meet very aggressive energy use targets—and how the design process supported meeting those goals.

Monday was capped off by the highlight event of every Laboratory Design Conference—the reveal of the Laboratory of the Year winners. This annual international competition receives entries from the best new and renovated laboratories. Entries were accepted from a wide variety of laboratory types, including research, quality assurance/control, teaching, software development, environmental, clinical, forensic, and testing and standards. A panel of experts—architects, lab designers, equipment manufacturers, engineers and construction professionals—analyzed each entry and recognized those they felt were most deserving as Laboratory of the Year. Team members received their awards and gave presentations to the audience.

The Laboratory Design Conference is proud to award the 2018 Laboratory of the Year awards to:

• 2018 Laboratory of the Year: CJ Blossom Park, Suwon, South Korea. Submitted by CannonDesign.

• 2018 Laboratory of the Year—Special Mention: Aerospace and Engineering Sciences Building, Metropolitan State University of Denver. Submitted by Anderson Mason Dale Architects.

“The announcement of the Laboratory of the Year winners is the high point of the Laboratory Design Conference,” said Bea Riemschneider, Editorial Director for Laboratory Design. “The experience and enthusiasm from both our entrants and our judges represents the very best of the lab design community.”