Today’s workplaces have been strongly influenced by the trend to provide modern comforts to employees. For example, ar- chitects are adapting plans to accommodate increased access
to daylight, more flexible spaces that encourage idea sharing, and a
variety of environments that can accommodate different personalities in the workplace.
Some of these trends are finding their way into the biotech workplace—enhancing the work environments of the front office and lab
space at the back—while maintaining regulatory compliance.
Of the many design innovations architects are bringing to biotech
offices and labs, one of the most impactful is the ability to provide
transparency between non-classified spaces (offices, corridors) and
research and product manufacturing. By bringing researchers and
scientists forward to the “front of the house” and making them visible, venture capitalists, investors and regulators can observe work
being done and witness breakthroughs occuring. Glass walls around
research spaces can also be a positive solution for giving regulators
and auditors access to observe laboratory operations—without the
need for them to gown up every time they want to inspect or review
highly secure spaces where research is underway.
It’s not a perfect analogy, but in many ways, this change in
biotech company work spaces mirrors changes in restaurant design,
where today, more high-end eateries make chefs and their crews visible for patrons. Diners take pleasure and inspiration in seeing where
their meals come from, who is preparing them and how.
We see that same sense of excitement from biotech stakeholders
who today can visit a prospective portfolio company and witness
researchers and technicians harvesting cultures, working with
raw materials and using automated technologies. It’s one thing
for a company executive to tell investors about progress on a new
autoimmune disease treatment: it’s more powerful when the CEO
can tour guests through a facility showing what researchers may
be looking at in real time through the lens of a microscope. This is
science in action.
The stakes are very high when it comes to transparency and
allowing access to sensitive information. It has to be done carefully
and is not for every biotech or pharmaceutical company. There
are limits, of course, to how much companies can safely expose to
public view, particularly in this era of heightened concerns about
intellectual property protection.
Maximizing real estate spend
Another trend driving innovation in biotech space design is the
steadily increasing cost of real estate, particularly in the research
hubs where the best talent and the best companies want to be, such
as Boston, New York, Seattle and San Francisco. Whether it’s renovating an old urban structure or building new, biotech companies
are looking to architects to help manage and maximize their real
Utilizing Smart Facility Design principles, architects can maximize workflow and create environments that are economically and
environmentally sustainable. One leading example is the transition from stick-built, drywall-and-stud construction to modular
environments, where prefabricated structures are created offsite
and assembled quickly at their destination. For example, creating
a modular cleanroom in a controlled shop, testing its systems and
Science in Action:
Visualizing and Designing
New Biotech Labs
Laboratory architects have introduced innovative ideas to the
biotech marketplace as the next generation of research and
researchers continues to mature.
by Brian DiLuiso, Partner, E4H
The trend of transparency in laboratory workspaces in the past few years has
lead to an abundance of glass walls. Photo: E4H