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Lab Design Conference Offers Behind-the-Scenes Facility Tours

Participants of the Lab Design Conference can attend exclusive facility tours

by Vaishna Rajakumar
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This year, participants of the Lab Design Conference will be able to engage in optional lab tours in the San Diego area on May 18. Tours will be available in both the morning and the afternoon, and attendees may register for a single tour or multiple. These exclusive, behind-the-scenes lab tours are available for $195 for either the entire morning or afternoon. The agenda includes afternoon tours of SOVA and Biovista, properties operated by Longfellow. SOVA is a tech and life science campus in the Sorrento Valley, and Biovista is a Class A lab workspace in the Sorrento Mesa. Jim McGlade, director of project management at Longfellow, spoke to Lab Design about the afternoon tours at SOVA & Biovista. 

Lab Design Conference tour
The SOVA patio will be available on the afternoon tour.

Q: Can you tell me a bit more about yourself?

A: [I have been an] architect for 30 years, with a focus on life sciences for probably the last 20 to 25 years. Longfellow was my client and then roughly a little over five years ago, I joined them to help with project management. And now my new role with them as of the beginning of last year is the director of planning and design. So, my role is to maintain our standards across the board, but also maintain the expected delivery of our developments that are all at the same level, meeting the Longfellow standards, both in quality and in standards. 

Q: What can participants expect from the tour? 

ASo let's start with the tours themselves. We have this cluster of, projects within a two to three-minute drive of each other and they're all in different stages and they're all different types. 

1. Demo-Projects 

One is, what the presentation for Lusk Life Science Campus is going to be on. That's a huge development they'll just be breaking ground. So it really, if anything, is worth a drive-by. Another property called Bioterra is actually a multistory lab office development project—the steel will be going up at the time. 


a. Immediately down the road is the Biovista project, which is two office buildings that were purchased about two years ago, and we have hence converted them into lab buildings. We have developed five different spec labs, so there are five different floors, one of them is our tenant, BioLabs, which is kind of an incubator provider lab space. So we're going to be touring the BioLabs space but the interesting thing is it's really our spec lab that they've converted into their business model, so it's interesting from two perspectives. As in, how did we develop into a spec lab but then once the client took it over what modifications did they make for their purposes for their operations? And we can tour the back of the house of both of those buildings as well, and we can talk about modifications that we needed to make it office-to-lab. 

b. The other very interesting thing at Biovista is the amenities that we've put in, which is a big draw now for lab tenants. We enhanced the fitness center, and we put in [a] conferencing center, but the big draw is a brand-new restaurant that just opened up where we're proposing that we have lunch there... it's called California English and the chef is Richard Blais. He won a competition, “Beat Bobby Flay,” and he's a really big name in San Diego. It’s one of the few high-end restaurants there in that area.

restaurant lab tour
A visit to the restaurant California English, spearheaded by Richard Blais, will be offered on the Biovista tour.

3. SOVA 

[Then there is the] SOVA property, which was the original property purchased by Longfellow in California. It's a cluster of 12 buildings, single and two stories, in a more industrial neighborhood. So it's a much different feel. But there we would talk about the exterior enhancements that we made to the buildings to make them attractive as lab buildings, we will tour a spec lab there that we've constructed as well. [This way] you can kind of get a difference between a 25,000-square-foot spec lab fit-up versus like a 5,000-square-foot spec lab fit-up. And the amenities that we've developed there are all kind of centered around one of the tenants that were originally there, which was a New English Brewery, that manufactured beer. And we have a nice fitness center and lawn area with multiple activities that can happen out front. It’s a great place to end [the tour] and understand why the amenities are so important to the lab spaces as well. 

Q: What are your favorite parts about Biovista/ SOVA? 

A: For Biovista, for me, it's the spec labs—because of the big footprints they just feel they have a big tenant feel to them. And the way they're developed such that they're ready [to move in] day one. So a client, a lab tenant, can move in on day one and get to work without making any modifications; of course, they're going to make modifications but the concept is they sign their lease, and the very next day they're in there working in the lab.  But then at both properties, the amenities really stand out [because of] what we were able to do there really providing a different menu of amenities of each one, but yet making them very unique. For instance, at SOVA there are people there all weekend in this amenity area they're there at 7:00 at night, and there are families out there with kids and dogs. It’s more than just the place for somebody to go relax for a phone call or something, it really has become a community amenity as well. And that's what Biovista will end up being too, with the restaurant, it really will become a draw for people to come there after hours as well. That's the premise for the last property which is very unique. It has a great differential of about 50 feet between where four buildings are going to go and where three buildings are going to go and so we're creating a grand staircase, more like a hill climb with amenities on either side. There is a really large massive circulation path for pedestrians to move through that site. But you can imagine that on the weekends that'll be a very popular place for people to go “run the Rocky stairs,” like in the movie Rocky; or, come and picnic with their kids. Just be able to be in a place that has [a] very kind of European feel which you just don't get in America. 

Lab Design Conference tours
A map of the afternoon tours.

Q: Is there anything else that you'd like to add or mention? 

A: Longfellow is fully integrated. So we do the management, we do the acquisition of the property, we do the management of the construction and development, and then we also do our own property management. We don't hand it off. When we do these property tours, we're going to have the property managers come along with us. So if [tour attendees] have questions we're going to have the person there who can really answer that day-to-day question versus just the architect, or just myself. That'll be very helpful as well.