Published on December 7 on labdesignnews.com.
In Lab Design News, Charlie wrote about what interdisciplinary science means from a facility design perspective. We’ve shared an excerpt of the piece here.
Interdisciplinary Science in Academic Research – What does it all mean from a facility design perspective?
In the late ‘90s, we observed a push for open shared flexible laboratories. The idea was to address collaboration, efficiency and cost control through furniture installations in generic open space. While this approach led to innovative facilities supporting cutting-edge research, it targeted biochemical research and worked well for buildings with stable, repetitive programs. As research shifts to an Institute model over a Departmental model, we must expand how we design flexible and collaborative environments.
Fifteen years ago, shared open labs were a hallmark of interdisciplinary design. Open labs were supplemented with a small number of specialty rooms (tissue culture, microscopy, etc.) and depending on the ratio of specialty room to open lab, the lab could support programs from biology to intense chemistry quite well.
More recently, growth in biochemistry-like research has slowed and there is a more balanced demand for facilities that also serve the physical and applied sciences. We have observed renewed interest in multi-purposed, flexible facilities which support the creation of organizations like Centers or Institutes. As independent entities, these organizational models can draw from multiple departments within a school and form diverse research communities linked thematically rather than politically.
Buildings designed for this kind of organizational model are frequently called interdisciplinary or collaborative, but the solutions often reflect the same planning concepts employed in a basic biochemistry laboratory. As a result, these buildings are not always ideally suited to more diverse needs of an Institute.
Traditional open lab model emphasizes bench-based and small equipment work