Press Release Summary:
In a session at LabAutomation2007, experts agreed that changes in technology and business trends have unpredictable impact on where, how, and when scientific research and development is conducted. Panel included architect Eric Ferrit, who emphasized open space concept designed from the inside out, corporate space planner Shawn Pixley, and scientist Richard Rodriguez. Peter Grandsard, executive director of research at Amgen, moderated the panel.
Original Press Release:
Flexibility and Mobility Key to "Lab of the Future"
CHICAGO -- In a special session at LabAutomation2007 (presented by the Association for
Laboratory Automation, January 28-31 in Palm Springs, CA), a panel of experts agreed that because
ongoing changes in technology and global business trends have an unpredictable impact on where
and how and when scientific research and development is conducted, laboratories must plan to
maximize flexibility and mobility to ensure future effectiveness and efficiency.
The panel fused insight from an architect (Eric Ferret, director of laboratory planning and design at
KlingStubbins), a corporate space planner (Shawn Pixley, director of research and development
planning at Amgen), and a hands-on user/scientist (Richard Rodriguez, manager of research
automation technologies at MDS PharmaServices). The panel was moderated by Peter Grandsard,
executive director of research at Amgen.
Grandsard established the goal for the "Lab of the Future" as space and workflow, including enabling
technologies that cultivate innovation and productivity. He noted that laboratories of the past and
present were typically designed from the outside in for specific functions, and were value-engineered
with a fixed infrastructure.
Ferret presented an architect's perspective on the Lab of the Future, and emphasized an open space
concept designed from the inside out. According to Ferret, the ideal open concept is based on
warehouse design, eliminates fixed casework, and features customizable and movable overhead
service delivery systems for water, electricity, gas, and other utilities.
Ferret also emphasized the critical importance of ventilation components, noting that for labs with
exceptionally tight engineering standards, HVAC requirements alone can account for as much as 65
percent of a laboratory's construction budget. In general, Ferret favored constant controls over
variable controls, because the required controls and air handlers can add considerable cost. Ferret
recommended that laboratories begin new designs with small capacity units, plan for current and
expected requirements, and then allow extra room for unexpected requirements.
From a corporate space planner's point of view, Pixley concurred with Ferret, noting that today's
volume of work necessitates a capital-conscious approach with predictable metrics, delivery
practices, and scope management. Pixley emphasized that when planning a laboratory workspace,
planners should begin by thinking differently about problems; embracing uncertainty; challenging
established processes; forcing corporate, site and functional strategies; and defining boundaries.
Pixley stressed that planners must keep current global business and technology trends in mind. He
noted that the way in which laboratories and their staffs produce data, evaluate and interpret data, and
use data has changed dramatically since the 1970s and 1980s. The laboratory is no longer restricted
to the space or people or equipment within its four surrounding walls. Corporate productivity is
being achieved through virtual collaboration between multiple global research sites on an around-theclock
basis. Scientists work in and often outside of a number of different labs as well as on airplanes,
commuter trains, in hotel rooms and their own homes.
As a working scientist and laboratory manager, Richard Rodriguez could not have agreed more with
Pixley and Ferret. In Rodriguez's opinion, continuous change presents continuous challenges in the
management of his laboratory's operations. Adapting to new priorities and outdated equipment make
an open design imperative.
Rodriguez defined an ideal open concept laboratory as having a minimal number of weight bearing
columns and walls; automation systems in the center; mobile lab benches and equipment tables on
the periphery; and equipment that maximizes vertical space vs. horizontal space.
For more information about ALA or LabAutomation, visit labautomation.org,
e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888.733.1252 or +1.630.208.6830.
The Association for Laboratory Automation (ALA) is a worldwide organization representing
leaders in all aspects of laboratory automation. ALA seeks to provide a greater understanding of
the importance and value of automation technologies in laboratory settings, to advance science
and promote education related to laboratory automation by encouraging the study, advancing the
science and improving the practice of medical and laboratory automation.
LabAutomation2008 will be held January 27-30, 2008, in Palm Springs, CA.