Published on September 26, 2014
Informa Conference - The Conversation 'The Future of Medical Research' 25-26 September 2014 - Sydney Marriott Hotel ___________________________________________________________________ Medical Research Facilities - Best Practice By Brian Griffin FRAIA FRIBA FDIA Architect and Laboratory Building Specialist Author of 'Laboratory Design Guide 3rd Edition' ___________________________________________________________________ COMMENTARY OF PRESENTATION ___________________________________________________________________ 1. I first want to look at the big picture. This diagram from a survey of lab buildings from 1985 to the present day clearly shows how laboratory space has been reduced from 70% of the building to only 30%. On the other hand, offices and workstations have increased from 10% to 30%. Why? Because of the introduction of computers. Research scientists now do more of their work on computers and collaborate with overseas colleagues via the Internet .Many also use Auto equipment which does work which was previously done manually and required more space. 2. This diagram from the USA National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) shows how design criteria has become more stringent since the original NIST facilities.The criteria now can require PC3 facilities or even Cleanrooms for some projects. 3. Fast forward to my most recent research laboratory building which is the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) at the University of Tasmania (UTAS) Hobart campus. John Wardle Architects designed the building with my lab consultancy. I believe the building is the current benchmark and Best Practice for reasons I will show you. 4. The main reason why this design is Best Practice is the 3 strands which run the full length of the building. The offices and workstations face the water, the centre strand is a professional and social interactive space with tea/coffee making, casual seating, open space and glass walled meeting rooms. Voids open all floors providing a collegiate environment. Finally the third strand facing the street is a continuous flexible and adaptable laboratory space. 5. This is the concept plan showing the 3 strands. Inevitably the final floor plans show how the basic design has to be modified to accommodate minor spaces. 6. Now I want to illustrate the various features which make a building design best practice. This is the Aberdeen Medical Research Laboratory, Scotland which has a waiting list for research scientists to take space. Why? Because the architects have created a collegiate environment where occupants can interact in the cafe and
casual conversation can spark ideas which may develop into new research directions. 7. Another recently completed project is the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research (WAPA) designed by Hames Sharley and our lab consultancy. It has most features of best practice but the typical floor plan is a new model. 8. The reason the floor plan is a new model is that it does not follow the most common model of labs, offices and lab support extending the length of the building, like IMAS. The lab extends across the width of the building with offices to one side and lab support on the other side. 9. Another feature of best practice is an interactive conference facility where each delegate can participate via technology. Research is global so many conferences are shared by international participants. 10. This is one of our projects where we had to comply with AQIS PC3 requirements as some animals were imported. It is a framed building with external diagonal wind bracing and all internal partitions were prefabricated and fixed in place. The air-sealed joints and services penetrations were a design challenge for me. Floor wastes for hosing out the animal spaces had screw seals. 11. This 3D view of a series of Cleanrooms was an interesting exercise for us as it was located in an existing UniSA building. We used the French product, Dagard for all panels, doors, services panels etc. 12. This is another example of best practice. As the lab is one long space, research groups can occupy as much or as little space as they require. As their requirements for space inevitably change in time, the lab manager will allocate a new location for them. 13. When I first decided to specialise in laboratory building design, I rejected the fixed benches and shelves which were currently the norm. I studied the user requirements and designed movable benches which could be rearranged to suit the changing requirements. I designed this services spine to provide lab services to the movable benches. 14. So a variety of movable benches, adjustable height benches and sink benches can be placed as required, leaving space for floor standing equipment. 15. Reagent shelves can be placed as required, supported by the services 'bollards' or removed for bench standing equipment. When I started on laboratory design I noticed that fixed shelves over the fixed benches were a problem for the newly developed bench equipment. 16. Research has shown that indirect light will enhance visual acuity. This best practice is unfortunately not known to all lighting consultants who still use the ceiling fittings with mirror or lenticular diffusers which create glare on the bench and cause eye strain.
17. Recirculating fume cabinets are best practice as fumes are not exhausted into the environment. Better known and installed extensively in Europe where I realised their advantage. I recommend them in accordance with the Australian Standard. At one laboratory where I recommended the Recirculating Fume Cabinets, I later heard that they liked them so much they had ordered a further 16 cabinets. 18. It is best practice to consolidate research material in one location as in this installation at St Vincent's Hospital Medical Research on level 6, which I designed with BVN Architects. The Garvan Institute also has the glass fronted frig/freezer coolrooms. Bar fridges under work benches produce unwanted heat in the lab. 19. Finally, my piece de resistance. First designed for the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI) at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), my concept for servicing a laboratory building by having what I called a peristitial space on the facade of the building for all services reticulation. The builder told me they saved time and money by being able to install services externally while installing the interior partitions. This also makes maintenance and servicing of services easier as it can be done without interrupting the occupants in the labs. Mechanical consultants told me they have since installed the concept at the Imperial College, London as well as in Australia.
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