The Year in Review – A Storage Knowledgebase

The new year is almost here, full of exciting possibilities and the fruition of well-executed plans. It’s also a great opportunity to consider the knowledge gained in the previous 365 days. With that in mind, here’s a selection of our most popular posts of 2016.


The Ultimate Document Management Guide

Tracking and storing reams of paper documents can be an exhausting paper chase, but with planning, consistency, and a great storage system, you can relax and get on with your business.

Fashion Designers’ Workplace Storage: An Update

How do design-conscious fashionistas incorporate great storage design into their workplaces? Here’s the low-down.

Your Cell Phone Is Zapping Your Self-Worth

Good posture leads to good self-esteem. With phones or with adaptive office furniture, take posture into account for better self-esteem, assertiveness, and productivity.

The Law of Unintended Consequences: Gun Storage

For safety, police are required to confiscate guns in cases of domestic violence complaints. But overcrowded, insecure gun storage in police property rooms then becomes a safety problem itself.

A Lab Design Space-Planning Checklist

Planning for future lab needs is always the most challenging part of any lab design space plan. Modular casework gives you flexibility for the future as well as usability for today’s needs.


We’re looking forward to assisting you in the New Year!


Photo © Marek/

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

A Lab Design Space-Planning Checklist

We all know the old saying: “Failure to plan is planning to fail.” When you’re getting ready to invest in new lab space, the failure to plan can turn into expensive cost overruns.

A good checklist is a vital planning aid. Lab Design News has developed a space planning checklist to help determine your spatial requirements, including:

  • Current and future headcounts
  • Existing equipment inventory and future purchases
  • Venting and mechanical needs
  • Clean room requirements

Another way to guard against planning failures is to build flexibility into your space plan. Modular casework is a highly effective hedge against unanticipated demands on lab space. These cabinets can be reconfigured in dozens of ways, saving the cost of expensive new casework. This video demonstrates how one institution used modular casework to adapt to new space plans.

Plan ahead, avoid costly surprises, and talk to a storage specialist about maximizing flexibility in your casework design.


Photo © Nastassia Yakushevic/

Planning for the “Next-Gen” Lab

As science and technology advance, research facilities are having to decide how they will adapt – do they have the built-in flexibility to modify their laboratories, or will they have to do a top-to-bottom redesign? Writing in Lab Design News, Jeffrey R. Zynda, describes a “next generation” laboratory, one that is reconfigurable to meet the increasing need for computational research, as well as promoting the well-being of researchers themselves through social, collaborative environments.

A flexibility plan is essential to an effective next-gen lab. Reconfigurable casework and movable benches are a good step toward flexibility, as Greg Muth discusses in “Flexibility – It Takes A Plan.” Without good planning, however, the flexibility rarely lives up to the expectations.

Muth notes that a good flexibility plan defines who modifies the space – the users, the maintenance staff, or an outside vendor – and how long the modifications will take. He points to the example of Genentech, who developed “SWAT teams” of contractors who know the casework systems well and can make frequent modifications quickly and easily.

Creating a sound plan with the assistance of a knowledgeable vendor will help next-gen labs maintain their usefulness for years to come.

Photo WavebreakMediaMicro © Fotolia

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

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.


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


Got questions? We’ve got answers…


Photo © Tsuboya –

You’re Benched! New Lab Designs Save Energy By Moving Away From Bench Workspaces

A recent usage analysis shows that more research is being done in specialized workspaces than at the traditional laboratory bench, giving lab designers an opportunity to use “plug-and-play” modular casework to take advantage of natural light and air circulation, and save energy.

Kevin Sullivan, FAIA, of U.S. design firm Payette, reviewed this trend in his discussion of the design of the new Biosciences Research Building at the National University of Galway (Ireland) in this article for Lab Design News: The designers questioned every assumption about laboratory design – everything from where tissues could be cultured to where graduate students could drink coffee. The final design had at its center a collaborative “hub” furnished with movable modular table systems with no fixed connections to infrastructure. These systems could “plug in” to electrical and HVAC infrastructure as needed, and unplug for mobility.

The result of going green with modular millwork and innovative space utilization? Energy savings of approximately 70% annually. Not too shabby!


Got questions? We’ve got answers…


Photo © Ilya Akinshin –

Crime Labs: Victims of Success

The hit television series “CSI” performs miracles of forensic science every week, solving complex crimes in each one-hour episode. The real world is a little different: Across the country, crime labs are drowning in backlogged cases. Forensic science has become so good at identifying perpetrators that today’s crime lab reports often play a critical role in helping to convict or clear a suspect. The result of this success is that every crime scene is now producing vast quantities of fingerprints, fibers, and DNA, all of which must be analyzed by crime labs that are often facing a months-long backlog.

Maintaining the integrity of the evidence while it awaits analysis is vital to an accurate forensic result. Contaminated DNA or smudged fingerprints can ruin a case. This is where a professionally designed storage system can support the efforts of overworked CSI professionals, and it’s a design niche that requires specialists. Writing in Forensic Magazine, Susan Halla and Cy Henningsen outline some of the storage options for keeping evidence safely stored until the lab technicians can analyze it:


Got questions? We’ve got answers…


Photo © Aleksandar Mijatovic –

Could A New Storage System Have Prevented the Recent Smallpox Near-Miss?

No one is more dedicated to public health than the NIH and the FDA. But recently some smallpox samples missing from one of their labs sparked horrific scenarios ranging from terrorist threats to a real-life replay of “Outbreak.” Now that the potentially deadly samples were found on the NIH campus in an FDA lab storage room, investigators are asking how they went missing in the first place.

The samples were originally collected in the 1950’s and stored in an NIH lab, long before modern automated storage systems were invented. In 1972 the lab’s operations, including the smallpox samples, were transferred to the FDA. Although the investigators’ report is not yet complete, it does raise the question of how periodic upgrades of storage systems, including AS/RS and RFID technology, might have secured the samples on the lab’s inventory.

There is a happy ending to the story – the recovered smallpox samples were handed over to the CDC, where they were tested and subsequently destroyed: But it’s a reminder of how vital a good storage system can be. The health of the human race might depend on it!


Got questions? We’ve got answers…


Photo © frog-travel –

Working in a Fishbowl, and Five Other Trends in Laboratory Design

People are naturally voyeuristic. It’s a trait which reality television has taken advantage of for some time. Now other industries, from restaurants to research labs, are turning this human habit into an opportunity for better management and positive public relations by showcasing their workplace processes in “fishbowl” facilities. As Jennifer Webb states in Lab Manager Magazine, research labs benefit from this new openness in several ways: Investors and others can see and appreciate the lab’s capabilities; regulators can observe the lab in action without disturbing ongoing research; and natural light improves researchers’ productivity – an important factor for both cost control and employee retention.

Of course, the fishbowl trend has implications for space utilization, storage, and workstation aesthetics. Webb discusses six new trends in lab design which enhance the public face of research labs while keeping infrastructure costs in check:


Got questions? We’ve got answers…


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