Laboratory facilities are complex, technically sophisticated, and mechanically intensive structures that are expensive to build and to maintain, and therefore the design, construction, and renovation of such facilities is a major challenge for all involved. Hundreds of decisions must be made before and during renovation or new construction. These decisions will determine how successfully the facility will function when completed and how successfully it can be maintained once put into service. Yet many of these decisions must be made by users and administrators whose knowledge of both basic and more laboratory-specific design, construction, and renovation is minimal at the start of the project and must be rapidly increased.
Laboratory design has been the subject of a number of books, including three previous studies by the National Research Council (NRC, 1930, 1951, 1962) and guidelines prepared by the National Institutes of Health and the American Institute of Architects (NIH, 1998; AIA, 1999). These books, however, are addressed to the professional design community, whose members are already familiar with general design and construction issues and processes. What has been lacking is both basic and laboratory-oriented information addressed to the user community—the scientists and administrators who contract with the architects, laboratory designers, and engineers who will design the facility and the construction personnel who will build it.
This report is addressed to the scientist-user and administrator, and therefore focuses on how to have a successful laboratory facility built rather than on the detailed specifications for a successfully constructed laboratory. In this context, a successful laboratory facility is defined as one that provides effective and
flexible laboratories, is safe for laboratory workers, is compatible with the surrounding environment, has the support of the neighboring community and governmental agencies, and can be constructed in a cost-effective manner. This report covers many basic aspects of design, renovation, and construction projects in general as well as specific laboratory-oriented issues. In its discussion of the latter, the committee considered primarily chemistry and biochemistry laboratories; it did not deal specifically with specialized buildings such as animal facilities, nor did it address multiple-use buildings such as teaching and research facilities. (Narum, 1995, deals with teaching laboratories.)
Overall, the general principles elucidated by the committee make its recommendations applicable to the construction or renovation of almost any laboratory building. Through its investigations the committee found that although individual projects differ, there are certain commonalities in successful laboratory construction and renovation projects. These include the right participants and a continuity of personnel; a thorough, well-defined, and thoughtful process; and a broad knowledge of the relevant issues. These common themes are discussed in Chapters 1 through 3: ''Human Issues," "Process Issues," and "Technical Issues." Many of these elements, especially those discussed in Chapters 1 and 2, may appear to be common sense, but they were found to have been overlooked in some of the projects described to the committee. Other themes are more specific to laboratory facilities.
Transcending specific issues and recommendations are four critical factors identified by the committee as characterizing successful laboratory construction or renovation projects:
A "champion" who is strongly committed to the success of the project, who has the confidence of the entire client group, and who stays with the project from beginning to end;
A design professional, often an architect, who has experience and demonstrated success in laboratory design and construction;
A well-defined and well-articulated process for carrying out the project from predesign through postconstruction; and
Clear lines of communication and authority for all participants throughout the process.
Attention to all of these factors is basic to achieving a successfully designed and built laboratory facility.
Chapter 1, "Human Issues," discusses the participants, the sociology of building projects, and community relations. Participants are the people who play significant roles in a laboratory construction or renovation project. Some are
part of the process by virtue of their institutional or external affiliations; others must be chosen to enhance the probability of obtaining a superior result.
The two most significant participants are the "champion" of the project and the design professional. The champion is important in articulating the need for the project and driving the project continuously from beginning to end. This person commands respect within the institution and has a direct line of communication to the administration of the institution. The design professional should have significant practical experience in the design, construction, or renovation of a laboratory facility with a magnitude comparable to that of the proposed project, and in the relevant scientific area. The selection of the right design professional is critical. If an externally imposed architect does not have these qualifications, a qualified laboratory consultant should be engaged.
Other participants required in a laboratory renovation or construction project include members of the client group (users, administrators, facilities operations personnel, budget authorities, environmental health and safety [EH&S] personnel, expert consultants), the design group (the design professional, engineers, consultants), the construction group (general contractor, suppliers), and the larger community group (the general public, regulatory authorities). The champion can be any member of the client group. Three members of the client group—the client project manager, the budget authority, and the user representative—form the client team, which is responsible for day-to-day management of the project. It is essential that some individuals, such as the users and the EH&S personnel, be involved in all phases of the project, especially the early planning; other participants may be involved in only some phases. Laboratory construction, like laboratory design, requires an attention to detail beyond that necessary for many building projects, and so the selected general contractor should have experience in the construction or renovation of technical buildings. The active and timely participation of all relevant parties is critical to completing a successful project.
The sociology of building projects has two aspects: the interactions between the participants involved in the construction or renovation, and the human needs that must be met by the completed project. Interactions are facilitated by effective communication and shared input. In particular, early user involvement often substantially reduces the number of costly change orders. The users' representative should facilitate the active participation of all users throughout the project, and the client team should manage the flow of information.
Human needs are met by design features, although no single set of design features suits all. Some design features reflect the basic philosophy of an institution, such as mixed use, shared versus individual laboratories, modular design, the relationship of offices to laboratories, the number and types of public spaces, and concerns of the community. Other design features address human needs and concerns, such as the location and quality of reading rooms and rest rooms, safe corridor design, and overall convenience, aesthetics, and security.
Good community relations are required for the successful siting, construc-
tion, and use of a new laboratory building. Such relations are best achieved through effective communication and the timely exchange of information with the surrounding community. This community should be actively engaged in a project early in the planning process through, for example, educational outreach efforts and the use of the institution's community and public relations offices, community advisory boards, chambers of commerce, and the local media. Paternalistic, technocratic, or secretive planning methods should be avoided. Continual interactions with an informed community afford an institution the best opportunity for good long-term relations with the community.
To address the human issues in a laboratory construction or renovation project, the committee recommends the following actions:
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.
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.
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.
Choose an experienced general contractor. Laboratory construction requires greater-than-usual attention to detail; prior experience with technical buildings enhances the probability of success.
Consider sociological needs. Physical layout can help or hinder interactions among all who will use a laboratory facility.
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.
Chapter 2, "Process Issues," describes the processes that occur during the different phases of a laboratory renovation or construction project. In the architectural design and build method discussed in this report, the phases of a project
are predesign or information gathering, architectural design, construction, and postconstruction. Although other methodologies for building facilities may be more expedient, the committee does not discuss them in this report because it believes that they are less likely to yield the desired attributes of good laboratory design.
Procedural guidelines for use throughout a construction or renovation project are also described in Chapter 2. Because of the number of participants who should be involved and the number and types of issues that need to be considered throughout the project, the design, construction, and renovation processes should be planned as carefully and thoughtfully as the laboratory facility itself. Essential procedures include implementation of a rigorous decision-making process, identification and engagement of the necessary participants for each phase of the project, and establishment of formal lines of communication and authority among these participants. The architectural design phase should include a mechanism for verifying the completeness and accuracy of all design and construction documents. In the construction phase, a procedure for strict control of the budget and of change orders should be established. Finally, before the project is completed, assurance that the laboratory was built and will operate as planned should be secured through building commissioning, and a plan for the future maintenance and operation of the laboratory building should be established through an owner stewardship plan. Throughout all phases, a single individual in each group should be identified as a primary point of contact and should be responsible for all communication among the client, design, and construction groups.
The goal of the predesign phase is to identify the project's scope and budget as well as all issues that could influence the subsequent design/documentation phase. Although predesign is often slighted in project budgets, experience has shown that its successful completion enhances the probability that the laboratory construction or renovation project will be completed within the prescribed schedule and budget. Sufficient funds should be allocated for this vital phase.
In the design/documentation, construction, and postconstruction phases most of the work is conducted by the design and construction groups. It is essential, however, that the members of the client group remain actively involved to ensure that the program requirements are being met, to control changes in the scope of the project, and to carefully review all design and construction documents. Although it is important for all projects, careful review of all construction documents is essential for mandatory low-bid projects, because in this situation only that which is specified in the contract documents will be built. It is also essential that the procedures developed at the outset to enhance and regulate communication be rigorously adhered to in order to maximize productive communication between different contractors and subcontractors and to minimize the number of contractor-initiated change orders.
To address process issues during the several phases of a laboratory construction or renovation project, the committee recommends the following actions:
Develop a planning and decision-making process. Planning should include all relevant participants. Decisions should not be revisited without cause.
Implement a predesign phase. Predesign, involving a design professional, maximizes end results.
Designate a single point of contact for each group. This individual will coordinate all information exchange within the group and with the other (client, design, and contractor) groups.
Maintain control of the budget. Detailed cost estimates should be completed and reviewed at the conclusion of each phase. A clear process for handling change orders should be developed before construction begins.
Establish a system for rigorous review and approval of documents. Design documents should be carefully reviewed and approved by the client group representative at the end of each phase.
Establish and implement a process for building commissioning. Building commissioning should include the production of operation and maintenance (O&M) manuals, updated construction documents ("as-builts") and drawings, systems testing, and training. There should also be a postoccupancy evaluation.
Owners should be good stewards. Beginning at the planning stage and continuing for the life of the laboratory facility, owners must provide adequate funding and staffing for operation and maintenance of the buildings.
Chapter 3, "Technical Issues," presents some of the basic elements that must be considered in the design, construction, or renovation of a laboratory facility, such as health, safety, environmental, and building regulations, design details, and cost considerations. Regulations, codes, and ordinances, which govern many highly specialized issues, will inevitably influence every major decision of the project, and so attaining compliance mandates the early and continuing involvement of EH&S professionals and the establishment of a working relationship with regulatory authorities. While it is possible to delegate design and cost control decisions to the design professional, the active participation of an informed client greatly enhances the probability that a superior laboratory facility will result. For example, multiple design alternatives may exist to satisfy particular laboratory requirements; before one is selected, each should be considered by the appropriate teams or committees of participants. It is advisable that each technical issue be considered and resolved early in the overall process, before
design decisions are frozen, to obviate costly later changes in design or construction. Because cost considerations will influence these decisions, initial and revised cost estimates should be obtained in the initial phases and throughout the project, so that cost decisions can be made in a rational manner. Finally, adequate contingencies should be allocated, because even with the best planning, some changes will be necessary.
To address the technical issues in a laboratory design, construction, or renovation project, the committee recommends the following actions:
Appoint an environmental health and safety technical advisor. An experienced EH&S professional is needed to advise the client team in all phases of a laboratory construction or renovation project.
Establish communications with regulatory authorities. Early in the project the institution should develop a working relationship with regulatory authorities whose approvals are necessary for various aspects of the project.
Consider design alternatives. Explore alternative solutions for fulfilling needs.
Complete predesign before committing to a budget. If possible, defer setting the budget total until completion of the schematic design phase, when the scope, concept, and special conditions of the project are determined.
Obtain cost estimates. Construction cost estimates should be obtained from at least two separate, experienced sources, and the estimates should be reconciled at the end of each phase. Develop a list of project cost items as early as possible. Carefully review all bids, and compare them to design-phase estimates.
Set adequate contingencies. Even with the best planning, some changes will be necessary.