Greg Lundell is the director of equipment services at Genesis AEC. His background is in research, development, operations, and quality management for a variety of diagnostic, industrial, and biological product research and manufacturing organizations.
Stephanie DeLuca, AIA, is the director of lab planning at Genesis AEC. She has experience working on laboratory projects ranging from one-room renovations to multibuilding strategic moves involving multiple science groups in new and renovated facilities.
Q: How can laboratory equipment influence the design and construction of a space?
SD: Designing a successful lab means appreciating and understanding the connections between people, processes, and equipment. Strategic planning for lab equipment is instrumental to a lab’s layout, as it paves the way for space planning, casework, and required utilities. This planning guides critical design decisions such as whether to pursue a lab that’s fit-for-purpose or one with more embedded flexibility. Ultimately, equipment influences the type of space required and helps establish the appropriate design approach.
GL: Identifying equipment-specific considerations early in the design process ensures that both equipment requirements and lab user needs are met. For example, analytical equipment needs solvent storage, disposal, gasses, and electrical connections; and hazardous materials may require a fume hood or biosafety cabinet.
Q: What are some common challenges that arise during a lab project, and how can they be avoided or addressed?
SD: All lab projects have an inherent level of complexity. With a myriad of stakeholders involved—lab users, scientific leaders, lab managers, company leaders, facility managers, health and safety experts, among others—this complexity is not surprising. While each stakeholder may understand the lab equipment’s purpose from their unique vantage point, they rarely have the full purview needed for a holistically designed space.
GL: Leaving the equipment list to multiple stakeholders–who have other job priorities–can be costly and time-consuming due to gaps in information and a lack of oversight. Appointing a single “owner” of a comprehensive equipment list that accounts for each stakeholder’s priorities helps align the team and entire project. This enables central tracking and communication of equipment dimensions, required utilities, IT or software needs, and even the budget.
“Designing a successful lab means appreciating and understanding the connections between people, processes, and equipment. ”
Q: What is the role of the equipment coordinator, and how can laboratories benefit from their expertise and service?
GL: Often during design, each engineering discipline reviews equipment information from a vendor for their specific needs, creating siloed information. In our model, the equipment coordinator serves as a single point of contact to the entire project team across the entire project lifecycle. They field equipment questions in a timely manner; survey existing equipment; develop a list of potential new equipment; and communicate with the lab users, their management, and the design team. This integrated approach improves efficiency. It also yields a net reduction in design fees and churn, and has fewer impacts on cost, timeline, or redesign.
SD: Simply stated, having an equipment coordinator focused on user equipment needs and requirements at the forefront of the design process can enhance and improve a lab’s design coordination, productivity, innovation, and performance.