Has Flexible Lab Design Paid Off? A Decade In Review

Ten years ago, Stanford University opened the doors of a new interdisciplinary research facility, the Clark Center. This research lab was intended to break down barriers between various academic disciplines, encouraging investigational cross-pollination. Has the university’s effort paid off? Tully Shelley and Seth Meisler analyzed the results for American Laboratory, and reported their findings here.

At the heart of this collaborative effort was the design of the facility – open, flexible, interactive. Labs featured walls of windows where anyone could observe research in progress. The large lab spaces allowed experimenters to co-locate and support each other’s work. Resources could easily be shared, and chance encounters helped researchers come together to solve problems.

Without adaptive modular lab furnishings, the university’s innovative design would have been hard to achieve. Shelley and Meisler discuss how mobile “kit of parts” casework workstations allowed quick reconfigurations when researchers wished to collaborate, or when a research project came to an end. This video shows an example of similar reconfigurable casework:

 

Shelley and Meisler concluded that the Clark Center’s design has had a positive long-term effect on collaborative research, building a sense of community that supports interdisciplinary investigations. In their words, “With the proper stewardship, along with a well-designed building, collaborative science can flourish.”

 

Photo © Miles – Fotolia

Keep Your (Workplace) Options Open

Choice – it’s what employees want in their workplace environments. Businesses that build flexibility into the workplace are able to hire and retain top talent, and keep productivity at a high level. Choices can take a variety of forms, from flex hours to telecommuting to benefits. Offering tangible choices is a big part of the equation, too; creating a physical workplace that people are happy to come to on a Monday morning is every bit as important as a good 401K.

Old-school cube farms and new-style open plans can both be inflexible in their own ways. By using well-designed modular casework and reconfigurable workspaces, facilities managers can easily add choices to office environments, creating an adaptable balance between open and closed workspaces. Modular, reconfigurable workspaces are re-arranged as choices shift. Work “zones” for privacy or collaboration let employees choose which kind of environment they need for maximum productivity at any given time.

Writing in Facilities.Net, Naomi Millan states, “space is not a one-size fits all proposition.” In the choice-oriented workplace, the commitment is to employees, not to the built environment. The result is a happy, productive team and a successful business.

How are you adding flexibility to your workplace? Share your story with us, and we’ll share some insider tips we’ve learned from our experience as storage consultants.

 

Photo © Rawpixel/Fotolia.com

When A Laboratory Is Space-Challenged – Tips for Designers

The good news for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory was they were getting two new buildings. The bad news? The square footage would actually be less than the buildings they were leaving. PNNL’s program manager Greg Herman had to look for ways to fit more into less. Working with his design team, he maximized space by keeping walls to a minimum. Mobile casework and quick-disconnect workbenches allowed him to reconfigure “ballroom-type” laboratories in a matter of days, rather than taking time to demolish and rebuild interior walls.

Just as important was determining what equipment was the most reliable, useful, and best quality. “If it’s not reliable, then the users are not going to use it,” stated Herman. What made the cut? Read the complete story at http://bit.ly/1GOjLNr.

 

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Photo © Tsuboya – Fotolia.com

Hospitals Designing for Constant Change

Technology innovations, regulatory revisions, demographic shifts – they all add up to an ever-changing healthcare environment. “The best investment a healthcare organization can make is in a facility that can—and will—change,” says Lisa Regan, director of performance and transformation for Bluewater Health of Ontario. Regan and her colleagues cite modular design as the key to flexible space utilization, starting with building designs that allow for a variety of space usages over time. Modular cabinetry and furnishings are an essential part of the flexibility picture, moving out of “soft spaces” such as storage areas and offices whenever “hard spaces” such as imaging or surgery need to expand. In a recent Bluewater Health hospital re-fit, 80% of the new cabinetry was reconfigurable casework. Regan estimated the modular casework yielded a 74% savings when the spaces had to be reconfigured only a year later. Read the full story at http://bit.ly/1GdTUAh.

 

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Photo © blondsteve – Fotolia.com