Lab Renovation: Where to Start
Odds are if you’re interested in renovating your laboratory, it’s long overdue. Nearly all scientists come from a background that requires strict budgeting due to funding like university, medical research, and R&D environments. Whether you’ve continued working in a medical school research environment or are working for a hot new biotech, you’re conditioned to make due with what you have and that includes working with the space that you’re given.
Several years ago, as I was working with labs at Columbia Medical School, it was incredible to see the difference in labs from room to room, in the same building, on the same floor. Some south-facing spaces had clear sweeping views of Manhattan viewed from bright, fresh, and airy rooms. In others you could barely see out of the murky windows, the smell the ghosts of yeasts past embedded in the dark cabinetry and chemically clouded beakers, buckets, and piles of books. The contrast was night and day.
Eventually, the time will come to make the move out of the darkness, and by the time you’ve made that decision, you’ll probably want to move fast. MacBick can help you through every step of designing and building your lab. Here are just a few steps that will help us help you get the ball rolling:
What is the purpose of the renovation? Hint: Consider more than one.
Depending on the type of lab environment, there are plenty of different reasons for redesigning the lab. There is surely a catalyst for wanting to make the change but there could be other reasons that you haven’t considered that could either save a lot of money, help convince others of your reasoning, or even generate additional funding.
- Aesthetic Improvement
- Expansion, Collaboration, or Consolidation
- Employee Wellness
- Equipment Upgrades
- Safety Concerns
- Change in Workflows/Type of Research
- Outdated Mechanical/Electrical Systems
If the primary purpose of the new lab is to upgrade outdated equipment, you might only need to redesign a portion of the space. If the catalyst is electrical systems, you have a bigger project on your hands. In order to get the money, you have to understand your needs.
How much is this going to cost?
Once you have the ‘why’ worked out, we can move on to the ‘how’. How are we going to fund this? Where is the money coming from? What is the budget? What do I need to secure the money?
At MacBick, we blend science, design, business, and financial expertise to help you build the right space for your needs and position the business case. In some cases labs need grants to fund their renovation, in some the approval of the CEO. Budgeting for the new lab can be tricky and often a chicken or the egg scenario. Whichever your scenario, we can help from day 1.
Scenario 1: Renovation needs are confirmed but I need plans and costs in order to find out my budget.
Scenario 2: I need plans and costs in order to present and find out if this is something that can even be considered
Scenario 3: I have a budget and need to work backward into it.
When Can We Start?
This is another hurdle, akin to financing. Space is often a premium, regardless of your environment so, where will this work continue to get done while the renovation is taking place? Will you need to move? Is the work able to be moved? Are you able to continue working in the lab while renovations are in progress?
This is all dependent on the aforementioned questions about the purpose of the lab and the spatial resources available. In some situations, we can work in phases, others will need to be completely gutted. Either way, we can help you plan for it.
Building for the Future
A huge consideration, and possibly an internal selling point, is building for what the lab could be in the future vs. immediate needs. We can help you work through ways to ensure that the lab is flexible for different kinds of wet and dry bench space and modular furniture. When there is no question whether the lab is going to need a face lift in 5 years, it removed a lot of the risk.
In the last 20 years, scientific practices have evolved a great deal so there is no guarantee that some massive developments won’t change the look and feel of labs as a whole but, we now have more flexible options than ever to ensure the space is can grow with discovery and innovation.
Visual Design as a Selling Tool
MacBick will design a rendering for your new lab, simple from photos of your existing lab. This can be an incredible tool in getting people on board with your vision, helping immensely in the approval and funding process, and being a step ahead when you get the ok to move forward.
If you’re considering or planning a redesign or you just have an ugly lab, contact us for a free consultation. We will have you send us photos of your lab, show you the potential of your space in a beautiful rendering, and help you through the entire process.