Technical Approach for Designing Educational Laboratories

By Wesley Wong Assoc. AIA posted 04-04-2014 20:37


In the beginning stages of assessing an educational laboratory, the architecture firm must engage the stakeholders to define the design parameters and goals. The initial programming is a process of validating and cultivating a community-based design with faculty, administration, and students. Then the preliminary lab design establishes an understanding between the technical and scientific layout in accordance with the educational institution’s requirements. Through a series of checks and balances, brainstorming, and logistics reviews, the programming and pre-schematic package will be refined countless times until it is ready for the next stage. Once that is completed, the designer will prepare more detailed schematic plans and room data sheets for faculty review at an opportune time during the school year. Then during the following months, the designer will complete the S.D. package, working with staff and administration.

Technical and scientific buildings require spaces designed for highly specific uses and critical connections between these spaces. The architecture firm will verify that the pre-schematic diagrams incorporate public-private orientation of spaces, security requirements and other programmatic information work as designed.

Many of the spaces have complex requirements for equipment, furnishings and daily workflows. As part of the overall process, architecture firms should develop 2D drawings and 3D models that show the layout of these spaces and their perspective use. These models embody detailed information while also representing a tool to communicate with users and receive feedback based on what they see.

As design and documentation progress, the designer will return to the user group with graphic representations of building plans and elevations, 3D renderings showing envisioned spaces within the project and more detailed data about interior furnishings, finishes and equipment.

Below is a in-the-process and finished design example:

(Preliminary Lab Design for Las Positas Community College Science Bulding II)

(Finished Construction Lab Design for Las Positas Community College Science Bulding II)