Keeping Tabs on Trends in Laboratory Design

QuietBench DesignDesigning a new lab is an exciting adventure. Innovation is a constant in modern labs, so lab design must keep pace. Whether you’re constructing a new laboratory from scratch or transforming existing facilities, your design must take many things into account, from work styles and collaboration to building security, safety, and even the furniture used by different researchers.

Here are some of the latest trends in new laboratory design projects.

Getting Together

Long gone are the days when investigators labored away in solitude. Today, collaboration is the name of the game. This means you need to create “social buildings” that foster connection, with meeting spaces and break rooms where researchers can socialize.

While this once might have been a foreign concept—perhaps even anathema to managers who were afraid that researchers would not get as much work done—today we understand that successful scientists need to learn from what others are doing. Even a pair of window seats in an atrium can provide just the place for bouncing ideas off of each other.

Collaborating over research also means creating labs that allow entire teams to work together. For lab design professionals, interdisciplinary research units require attention to new kinds of concepts, including flow and circulation patterns of researchers. Offering group-based offices and write-up spaces also provides enhanced opportunities for the team to move forward.

Another way researchers are getting together is through “open” rather than “closed” laboratory layouts. This means creating a laboratory design that allows researchers to share dedicated lab furniture, equipment, and support staff, as well as space. When offices are moved over to one side, meetings can take place while others are working in the lab space itself. While not every type of research—or researcher—can handle such an open-concept workspace, most lab designs are no longer created around the constellation of a single principle investigator.

Preparing for Change

Of course, all this innovation and collaboration can result in a higher rate of change, which means laboratory design must be more flexible than ever. Whether the goal is easy expansion, being able to accommodate new equipment, or efficiently changing configurations in order to accomplish new tasks, labs are increasingly being designed for maximum adaptability.

As a result, they tend to be more generic, with flexible engineering systems (to address evolving safety issues), equipment zones that can be modified during the build-out phase (to keep pace with change in a typical three-year building process), and mobile dedicated lab furniture that can easily be transferred from one lab to another.

High-quality bench space is also critical in any lab design, because modern experiments are equipment-intensive. Safely stacking both equipment and supplies requires high ceilings and flexible shelving, while safely operating that equipment requires good lighting and attention to appropriate sprinkler system coverage.

Lab Design with the Computer in Mind

The pace of change in modern labs is due in large part to the exponential growth in computer usage. Thus any laboratory design must incorporate the use of technology. Building-wide wiring and cabling provide for collaboration, but must also retain sufficient flexibility to allow for configuration changes within individual labs. Virtual labs are also becoming more common. Whether you’re using telerobotics or virtual reality, modern lab design must be prepared to accommodate those evolving needs.

Within individual labs, specialized benches and workstations must maintain ergonomic standards even as they also support heavy and technologically sophisticated equipment. Dedicated lab benches such as ours include lockable hardware enclosures, monitor arms, and keyboard drawers to accommodate the technological needs of the modern lab.

Integrating Dedicated Lab Furniture into Your New Lab Design

Naturally, we’re keeping an eye on these lab design trends, because our goal is to create lab benches that will meet the need of any modern laboratory design now and in the future. And because IonBench lab benches reduce lab mass spectrometry noise, they also foster better communication and collaboration within the lab. To find out how our dedicated lab furniture can meet your lab’s needs, contact us today.