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Lab Design and Furnishings

Ask Linda: Managing a Lab Redesign

Work closely with contractors to make sure that the needs of the lab are kept at the forefront of the project

Lab Manager

Dear Linda,

The lab I manage is about to begin a major construction project. I have been enlisted to work closely with the contractors to make sure that the needs of the lab are kept at the forefront of the project. While this will certainly be a disruption and take me away from my day-to-day responsibilities, I am also concerned with how best to work with these non-laboratory professionals in order to assure that the finished product is successful and satisfies my team’s research goals. If you have any expertise in this area, I’m all ears.



Dear Audrey,

Depending upon the size of the project, your role may have more or less weight. But based on the experience of other lab managers, the following general guidelines may prove useful:

  • The plan for how employees and contractors work together should be carefully considered, given inherent differences in business objectives. Contractors should never lead the project and should have clearly outlined deliverables.
  • Laboratory employees should begin meeting with the design team and contractors as early in the process as possible.
  • Laboratory representatives must closely coordinate with construction contractors to finish construction, including all punch list items. This coordination should include agreement on ownership of qualification and training tasks for all contractor-furnished equipment.
  • Building design should be reviewed for changes in regulatory requirements as the project proceeds, because facility usage can be impacted. For example, rooms that were originally designed for waste accumulation might no longer meet the requirements at time of occupation, and late-stage room or process modifications may be needed.
  • Any equipment, no matter how simple, can pose difficulties in installation and qualification if care is not taken to review manufacturer’s recommendations for use. Temperature mapping of laboratory refrigerators, for example, can present challenges with set point configurations and probe placements.

For more information, see “Designing a Lab” at

Good luck.