The Life Sciences and Technology sector is booming. When land is at
premium, yet finding a perfectly-suited space is critical,
how do you decide what makes the best facility?
The decision lies in the details.
Finding the Right Space for
Life Science Innovation
Life Science and Technology Construction Insights
, Project Executive,
Life Sciences and Technology
Protect Your Budget and Speed to Market
1. finding optimal space
So you’ve decided to renovate or upfit an existing space! Since not all spaces are created equal, what are some key building characteristics that best accommodate life science? While anything can be altered, some inherent elements will allow avoidance of costly redesigns and rebuilds, as well as provide the best speed to market.
Characteristics that make a building a good candidate to house laboratory and research environments include:
Clear structure height – Find a building with clear structure heights of 13 feet or greater.
High structural load capacity -- Mechanical systems and lab equipment weigh a ton, literally. Will the structure need to be reinforced to properly support heavy loads?
Mechanical systems -- Are there dedicated systems or existing system capacity to support the targeted uses of the space?
Electrical systems -- Imaging equipment, fume hoods, and supplemental HVAC systems requires significant energy; are the electrical systems in the space up for the challenge?
Redundancy -- What guarantees your critical work doesn’t stop in the event of power or data loss?
Municipal zoning -- What measures need to be taken to have the building rezoned, if necessary?
Permitting -- Starting critical work early helps the schedule, however this may require phasing from your municipality.
for a Successful Life Science Renovation
Find the Right Space
Optimize Your Schedule
Adaptive reuse and renovation projects of older buildings may contain hazardous material that need to be remediated prior to construction. Hiring a third-party testing agency is recommended to uncover any hazardous materials. Once it is determined what needs to be abated, your general contractor can manage the removal of the hazardous materials.
Never be afraid to ask, “How will hazardous materials be disposed?” to ensure your contractor is meeting your goals for safety and sustainability.
Long before demolition is started, your design and construction team will work together to protect your bottom line. This design-assist approach provides a cadence of information sharing along with deliverables at the SD, DD, and CD levels, keeping all stakeholders engaged and the project moving smoothly. Budget updates with variance reports, schedule updates, constructibility reviews, and other items are also included at this stage.
KEY CONSIDERATIONS FOR A LIFE SCIENCE RENOVATION: FINDING THE RIGHT SPACE
Speed to market is one of the biggest factors when considering renovating a building into a research facility. These transformations can go live quickly; however, they take careful planning to keep your project on schedule and on budget. Utilizing integrated design and construction technology is key to securing a successful outcome that hits your schedule milestones and keeps your bottom line in check.
A few areas of distinction in the construction of a life science and technology facility include:
Talking with your contractor about their approach to these nuances will help lead your project to a successful, predictable outcome.
For any renovation project, slab scanning and ground penetrating radar are important tools. By using ground penetrating radar, your VDC team can determine what utilities are in the ground and what is inside the slab before cutting occurs. This technology is critical to both the tenant and the construction worker. A researcher’s work comes to a stop if a utility line is cut. For the construction worker, a utility strike has major personal safety implications.
Once you’ve found a facility that’s ready to be transformed, the next step is to accurately assess your conditions.
Over the last decade, construction technology has evolved into a critical tool for all projects. Employing Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) tools gives the entire team knowledge that positively translates to the bottom line.
3D laser scanning provides an accurate picture of the existing building conditions and enables planning around realistic conditions right from the start. Understanding the building’s structure and work that was completed in prior construction phases is a significant advantage for determining a facility’s renovation feasibility, scheduling, and budgeting.
Once a building is scanned, a 3D point cloud is created giving owners a hyper-accurate, data-rich 3D replica of the space that is leveraged directly into the design. Further knowledge is gained using a 360° camera to photo-document progress and digitally pin exact locations of the building to as-built documents and new floor plans. This provides real-time measurements within 1/8" accuracy and great flexibility for the owners and designers to determine the buildings viability.
3D Point Cloud
2. USING TECHNOLOGY TO FILL INFORMATION GAPS
KEY CONSIDERATIONS FOR A LIFE SCIENCE RENOVATION: EMPLOY TECHNOLOGY
Complete management and coordination of all MEP and structural elements ensure initial constructibility, as well as long term access and flexibility for the owner and their team operating the facility.
Precisely locate and dimension all components of the work to allow for early procurement and precision fabrication of critical items. This results in a shorter overall project delivery timeline.
Integration of building systems with process equipment and manufacturing systems ensures all components work in concert with each other.
Planning and designing a secondary structural support system from which to suspend lower plenum level piping, ductwork, fixtures, or other ceiling systems.
Building for the Future
Choreography of Equipment
Securing Structural Loads
KEY CONSIDERATIONS FOR A LIFE SCIENCE RENOVATION: EMPLOY TECHNOLOGY
3. Schedule Success
Effective Scheduling Minimizes Impact to Your Operations
Operational challenges that affect the schedule are a reality. Whether it is long lead times, material escalations, or some other bump in the road, thinking ahead to thwart off schedule creep will get you to your end date successfully.
Creating an intermediary milestone schedule to work in conjunction with your overall milestone schedule is one proactive approach. The intermediary schedule provides a phased look into your project and can head off manpower and material issues before they cause your project to miss a date.
If you’re currently occupying the space intended for renovation, keeping the momentum of an occupied site from being impacted by construction takes careful choreography and great communication.
KEY CONSIDERATIONS FOR A LIFE SCIENCE RENOVATION: SCHEDULE OPTIMIZATION
One way to mitigate interruptions is to create a construction “go / no-go” schedule. This schedule contains dates and times that the site needs to be free from noise or excessive movement, meaning a complete stop in work.
Segmenting the construction in an occupied space is another solution. For this approach, construction activities occur continuously, but are broken into areas and move in a sequenced, specific direction. Once construction of one segment is complete, all research space moves to the next segment so that construction may continue. Often times, moving researcher space is done during non-business hours to further minimize the impact of an occupied renovation.
The amount of congestion behind the walls and above the ceilings is significant in a Life Sciences building. As seen from the images to the left, Marsico Hall is no exception.
To maintain the designed ceiling heights while ensuring that the necessary infrastructure is routed intelligently, Choate utilized Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology. Choate’s VirtualWorks group enabled construction to occur digitally first. All mechanical systems were mapped and potential issues were solved before construction began, saving both time and money.
After the digital version was complete, Choate worked diligently with all subcontractors to execute these coordinated pathways for HVAC and plumbing systems, fire protection, gas piping, data cabling, etc. With the help of BIM, this massive project was finished ahead of schedule and within budget.
Building Digitally to Protect the Schedule
In this multi-phased project of an occupied space, the first floor transforms into a laboratory, showroom, and reception area. To accomplish this, a well-planned sequenced approach is undertaken and construction occurs in one segment of the space at a time.
For each segment, all researcher furniture, equipment, and personal items are carefully moved and relocated to an area of the building where the tenant can continue their work. Once that space is fully renovated, researchers are moved to their permanent location and the cycle occurs again. Four complete moves occur during this process.
Close communication and a comprehensive schedule keep everybody informed of the logistics and continuing rotation of space.
KEY CONSIDERATIONS FOR A LIFE SCIENCE RENOVATION: FINAL THOUGHTS
No matter the size or scope of a project…
...the single most important success factor is communication — upfront planning and collaboration with the project team to anticipate, assess, and mitigate facility impacts and protect the occupants’ ability to work.
the journey to a predictable outcome
Turning an owner’s vision and the designer’s art into a space where researchers bring leading-edge breakthroughs to our communities is immensely rewarding. Actualizing a vision takes proactive communication, look-ahead scheduling, and an understanding of the specialized needs of BSL-2s and 3s, wet labs, cleanrooms, vivariums, imaging rooms, and containment areas, just to name a few.
Unique construction nuances in this niche market can be the lynch pin of success. Specialized ventilation, vibration calibration, containment of hazardous materials, and ensuring easy access to installed systems are all important to execute perfectly.
Partnering with your design and construction team early in your project provides a successful, predictable outcome.
choate construction | RENOVATION in the life science market
Want to get in touch with a Choate life science expert?
Contact Mitchell Puryear
“I wish to extend my sincere appreciation to the Choate team for successfully completing such a unique and complex project. It was a pleasure working with the Choate team; I found your organization to be diligent and professional in their efforts to deliver such a state-of-the-art facility under extreme and challenging circumstances.”
Wm. Keith Snead, LEED AP
UNC Chapel Hill Mary Ellen Laboratory Building