Laboratory Design: What’s a “Next Generation” Lab?

Lightning in a lab flask

Until recently, life sciences labs were “seen one, seen them all.” However, the traditional rows of wet benches have lately been giving way to a new form of laboratory design – the next-generation lab.

In Lab Design News, Jeffrey R. Zynda, principal and academic science practice leader at Perkins+Will, Boston, points to a shift in research demands as the driving force behind next-gen lab design. Genomic sequencing, for example, relies much more on computational research than on hands-on experimental investigation. Further, the ever-growing collaboration between the public sector and the private sector encourages both specialization and flexibility. To meet these twin goals, designers must be mindful of the need for lighting, air handling, and furnishings that can accommodate specialized research while remaining reconfigurable for future projects. Flexibility in turn supports sustainability, another significant consideration in next-generation lab design.

Finally, these new labs promote the well-being of the scientists themselves. Social, collaborative environments will attract the brightest and best of the next-generation researchers, keeping these research facilities at the forefront of science.