Neglecting Community Differences

To some communities a laboratory built by an environmentally responsible institution is highly desirable because of the jobs and other economic development chances it offers. In other communities, entrenched local economic interests may object to a promised laboratory because it will increase the cost of labor in the community or otherwise alter existing economic arrangements. Variations in communities' attitudes are often linked to their economic status, but they may also depend on such factors as geographical location, political environment, and ethnic or racial makeup. It is important that the institution anticipate community reaction correctly.


To address the human issues in a laboratory construction or renovation project, the committee recommends the following actions:

  1. Provide institutional leadership. A person committed to the success of a laboratory renovation or construction project should be identified early in the project. This person will serve as the "champion" for the life of the project.

  2. Select an experienced design professional. A successful laboratory construction or renovation project requires the services of a design professional with demonstrated experience and success in laboratory design and construction of the type and scale required in the project. If institutional constraints preclude the selection of a suitably experienced architectural firm, an experienced laboratory consultant should be retained.

  3. Involve the users at an early stage. Users, through a committed user representative, should be involved in all phases of a laboratory construction or renovation project, with special emphasis on early planning. Mechanisms should be established to encourage the free flow of information among users and other participants.

  4. Choose an experienced general contractor. Laboratory construction requires greater-than-usual attention to detail; prior experience with technical buildings enhances the probability of success.

  5. Consider sociological needs. Physical layout can help or hinder interactions among all who will use a laboratory facility.

  6. Involve the community. Stay in close contact with the surrounding community throughout the laboratory construction or renovation project. Make use of the institution's external relations offices and community advisory boards, and avoid practices that might interfere with good community relations.

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