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The Scientific Workplace of the Future

Bright, Flexible Research Environments
Bright, flexible research environments will characterize The Francis Crick Institute in London.

Providing the right research environments at an affordable cost is a critical challenge for real estate organizations tasked with providing scientific workplaces that promote innovation, knowledge transfer, collaboration and effectiveness. Behavioral science can teach organizations about human performance, health and well-being; in turn, these factors impact workplace design. Workplace solutions for the next generation of researchers must accommodate a more mobile workforce, new models of collaboration, emerging technology and sustainable design goals.

Like the practice of science itself, the formula for creating the ideal scientific workplace that helps organizations focus on research continues to evolve. Testing new workplace ideas, measuring outcomes and making improvements over time can transform the workplace as well as the research it supports. Considering the office, traditional laboratory and all the workspaces in between, a giant laboratory for new ideas, processes and technologies is appropriate — and perhaps essential — for advancing science.

Where Researchers Spend Their Time

Where researchers spend their time.


The nature of corporate research and development is strikingly different than it was three decades ago. From the tools being used, through workflow efficiencies, to the ways and places in which researchers collaborate, the industry’s approach to research continues to evolve on all fronts. Forward-thinking research firms and institutions that recognize and adapt to these changes are gaining a competitive edge, while those that ignore them risk losing ground.

  • Merger and acquisition madness. Between 2001 and 2008, a perfect storm of pricing and regulatory pressures, inroads of generic drugs and an overall decline in research and development (R&D) productivity caused the top 15 big pharmaceutical companies to lose roughly US$850 billion in shareholder value. This season of profound challenges dramatically reshaped and transformed the industry.1 As global financial markets buoy back to pre-recession levels and all the mergers and acquisitions that took place prior to the collapse come to closure, research-focused companies in corporate America are rethinking their organizational models.
  • Speed to market. Within the next ten years, it is estimated that researchers will spend up to 30 percent more time in meetings and their offices, and 20 percent less time in their laboratories.2 Tomorrow’s research organizations need to be agile, efficient and effective to keep up with the demands of shareholders and customers. Speed to market continues to be the benchmark of success and many factors, not least of which is innovation, will test traditional ways of working. While the basic principles and function of research will not change significantly, the path towards discovery is continually evolving, with complex problem solving requiring scientists increasingly to form large-scale collaborations.
  • Better, smaller and more sophisticated tools. Scientists are using more sophisticated and technologically advanced tools. This has transformed the industry’s understanding of science into something that is far more complex, interrelated and multidisciplinary. While the tools scientists use to conduct research, analyze results, share findings and collaborate on discoveries have changed drastically, the environments to support these activities have not kept up. For example, genomic sequencers of the past once took up an entire laboratory. Today, scientists studying informatics and genomics use devices and software to analyze these results with an instrument the size of a flash drive.

Better, Smaller Tools
Better, smaller and more sophisticated tools streamline research at KAUST’s labs in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia.

  • Gen Y and Gen Z are wrapping up their PhDs. People from younger generations have a different perspective on life compared to their more seasoned colleagues. This generational clash can result in ‘cultural paralysis,’ which affects a company’s ability to meet its strategic business objectives. In the future, value in the workplace increasingly will be placed on how to support interaction across a variety of generations, languages and locations. The next generation of leading scientists is exiting private institutions and higher education research environments that have embraced modern workplace trends. Now they are looking for corporate workplace environments which can keep up with their demands for flexibility, work-life balance and the need to support multicultural collaboration.
  • Globalization. Nearly two-thirds of the world’s population is expected to live in Asia by 2025. As China’s double-digit annual R&D spending increases, its investment is expected to surpass that of the Americas. The growth in Asian R&D also reflects the output of scientists and engineers from the region’s educational system. In 2003, the combined number of researchers from South Korea, Taiwan, China and Singapore was 16 percent of the total number of global researchers. By 2007, that number had jumped to 31 percent. Over the same period, the US share dropped from 51 percent to 49 percent, and Japan’s portion dropped from 17 percent to 12 percent.3 Clearly, the face of research is evolving into a different demographic, heightening the expectation of global and multicultural collaboration.

Looking ahead, the value proposition and measure of success for corporate R&D are markedly different. Cost reductions will continue, but it is not just the recent economic downturn that is driving companies to rethink their real estate portfolios. Global competition and new enabling technologies are changing how companies view their workforce, productivity and performance. While many are reevaluating their enterprise-wide assets to seek better efficiencies, the best in class are also retooling their workplace environments to address innovation, knowledge transfer, collaboration and workplace effectiveness.

 Office is the New Lab
The office is the new laboratory: the scientific workplace of the future will blur the lines between laboratories and offices, allowing the office to support an organization’s scientific culture in new ways, as seen in GlaxoSmithKline’s space.


There is demand — including all of the drivers mentioned above — and then there is supply. If one could wave a magic wand and create a workplace that truly supports where scientific research is going, it probably would not look or behave anything like the real estate portfolios that today’s R&D companies occupy. The problem for real estate is managing the enormous costs required to keep up with research by providing the right environments in the right locations at the right time.

  • Many companies are holding expensive, inflexible space which cannot turn over fast enough. Early adapters — often smaller Fortune 500 companies or those in emerging markets — have an easier time addressing these changing demands. Their smaller building footprints enable them to change more rapidly. Larger, global companies saddled with large amounts of technical and office space have not been as agile. In fact, due to the significant number of mergers and acquisitions across the industry and the fact that real estate organizations are often decentralized, some companies do not even have an accurate grasp of the actual size or reach of their portfolios.
  • Interested in a gray, dark cubicle anyone? Many workplace environments are outdated, based on metrics from decades ago and not conducive to attracting the best and brightest people. Many corporate campuses are too far from cities, in locations where young people do not want to live.
  • Physical adjacencies are difficult to achieve. Increasingly more teams are global and working 24/7. While they continue to collaborate, they are not sitting side-by-side or even in the same time zone anymore. That said, face-to-face interaction is critically important to drive innovation. Increasingly more of these interactions are taking the form of cross-organization or cross-discipline biotechnology campuses like Biopolis in Singapore or the Clark Center at Stanford. GSK has set up an open innovation campus with Tres Cantos Spain for research for Diseases of the Developing World with the World Health Organization and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Visualization laboratories create opportunities for global research partnerships at KAUST.


To develop the most effective manifestation of the scientific workplace, it is important to understand the science of people — how they work individually, how they interact and how they react to the physical environment around them. For many scientists, this understanding is critical to helping them uncover new ways of thinking about them-selves, their teams and opportunities for the physical environment to better support their work.

The Difference between Performance and Productivity

When organizations are renovating space or constructing a new building, someone inevitably asks: ‘How can this workplace better support productivity?’

The standard business definition of productivity goes something like this: ‘Productivity is a measure of the efficiency of a person, machine, factory or system in converting inputs into useful outputs’. Although this definition is accurate, it is difficult to link it to the impact of space on human behavior, especially in the context of knowledge work.

A more effective question might be: ‘Given the nature of today’s work processes, how can the workplace better support human performance? How can the workplace support all the different activities involved with knowledge work like collaboration, creativity, innovation, deep thinking and mentorship?’

One way to better understand the nature of human performance is through a definition used by organizational psychologists. They claim it is enabled through a blend of ability, motivation and opportunity. Essentially, performance is a function of the three factors acting together. Ability has to do with whether or not a person can do a task; motivation is a measure of whether a person wants to do it; and opportunity is about accessibility as a person cannot do a task if they are not given a chance or denied access to necessary resources or amenities. This framework — looking at human performance as being influenced by multiple factors — reflects the difficult, variable nature of work today. Ultimately, all of these variables must be supported by the work environment to enable people’s best work to occur.

Supporting Work in Unconventional Places
Access to natural light is a feature at BioMarin’s office in San Rafael, Calif.

How Space Affects People and Human Performance

The following are a few of the ways in which design can positively impact the workplace environment and support performance, specifically enabling human ability, motivation and opportunity. These strategies are informed by the latest thinking in behavioral and environmental science.

  • Access to nature, views and daylight. People generally prefer to be surrounded by nature, which provides sources of variation and sensory change. The instinctive bond between humans and other living systems, often referred to as biophilia, is important to replicate in interior environments. It is also beneficial for people to spend time outside, even for limited periods during the day. Daylight helps people to regulate their circadian rhythms, which in turn regulate sleeping and affect energy levels through the day. When these rhythms are upset, people experience stress.4
  • Sensory change and variability. In much the same way that they prefer access to nature, views and daylight, people also prefer sensory change and variability. A lack of visual stimulation can dull the senses and affect a worker’s ability to stay alert. Sensory change and variability should not include bright lights and noise, but rather access to daylight, window views to the outdoors, materials selected with sensory experience in mind (touch, visual change, color, pleasant sounds and doors), spatial variability and change in lighting levels.5
  • Noise control. Noise is an issue in most workplace environments. Interestingly, it can enable or disable productivity, depending on individual preferences and the type of work being done. The key is enabling people to control noise by providing access to a room with a door and acoustical separation when needed. When employees have a degree of control over the noise in their environment, they are less distracted by it.6
  • Minimize the perception of crowding. When people feel crowded, they often feel stressed, which influences their workplace satisfaction. The perception of space and whether a person experiences crowding varies greatly by cultural background, individual preferences and gender. According to Sally Augustin, an environmental psychologist, lighter, brighter spaces, as well as rooms with high ceilings or those that have walls with mirrors, are perceived as less crowded. In addition, the perception of crowding can be reduced through the use of furniture, plants, decorative elements or pillars.7
  • Awareness of human factors and ergonomics. Workplaces that are designed for and around people are more likely to be comfortable, flexible and support productivity over time. This is because they take into account the needs and limitations of the people who occupy them. ‘Human factors’ is an area of workplace psychology that focuses on a range of topics including ergonomics, workplace safety, reducing human error, product design, human capability and human-computer interaction. The terms ‘human factors’ and ‘ergonomics’ are sometimes used synonymously. The American Cancer Society released a report in the American Journal of Epidemiology stating that men who sat for six hours or more a day in their leisure time had an overall death rate that was nearly 20 percent higher than men who sat for three hours or less in the 14-year follow-up period; women who sat for more than six hours a day had a death rate that was almost 40 percent higher and dedicated exercise had no neutralizing effect.8 Workplaces that encourage or allow for movement can mitigate this problem.
  • Choice. Today’s knowledge work requires high levels of concentration, collaboration and everything in between. Smart workplaces provide opportunities for these and allow individuals to choose when and how they utilize them. Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts,9 has caused a not-so-quiet revolution from knowledge workers of all kinds, not just introverts. She said in an interview: ‘A “best office” is one that would give people a choice of how much stimulation is coming at them at any one time. I would create an office that has lots of nooks and crannies, lots of zones of privacy, but also lots of zones where people can come together and schmooze and hang out.’10
  • Employee engagement. There is a direct correlation between employee engagement and worker satisfaction, which affects productivity and innovation. Engaged employees are more productive than less engaged employees, they tend to create stronger customer relationships and stay longer with their company. Engaged employees also are likely to be a company’s best source of new ideas.11 Engaging employees in the design of their workplace is a perfect opportunity to leverage this human need.

Promoting Interaction
Collaborative areas at BioMarin’s office in San Rafael, Calif.

Why Changing the Workplace Is So Hard (And It Is Not About Money)

All of the elements mentioned above about human behavior are important to address. People are most productive in environments that are made for people and considerate of their DNA as much as the changing nature of their work.

Unfortunately, many workplaces today do not incorporate these elements and, for many reasons, are not supportive of the knowledge work going on there. People are incredibly adaptive, so they have made it work despite serious challenges. But because people are creatures of habit, efforts to make changes to the workplace environment — even positive ones — are often resisted. It seems counterintuitive, but just because people have information about how a new work-place in fact might be better for them, does not mean they will adopt it with zeal. Hal Arkowitz, a psychology professor at the University of Arizona, and Scott O. Lilienfeld, a psychology professor at Emory University, claim that: ‘Helping people change involves helping them want to change — rather than cajoling them through advice, persuasion or social pressure. Research has demonstrated that such “highly directive” approaches are likely to backfire, making the patient increasingly likely to resist change.’12

When it comes to creating a productive, healthy workplace, employee engagement turns out to be the most important element. This means more than just engaging with employees by telling them what to do and ‘communicating on message.’ Really reaping the benefits of making positive changes within the work environment requires discussion, dialogue and ‘coaching’ to help employees see the benefits of change and embrace it on their own. One of the most transformative examples of this occurred recently with a group of scientists in Washington, DC. Although they were aware of the potential benefits of their new space, the fact that it was being ‘pushed’ on them by a corporate group made them highly resistant and negative about moving into a new workplace environment. After an all-day work session where they were asked to ‘roll up their sleeves’ and design their space alongside the design team, they not only came away having designed a very different floor plan from the one they currently sat in, but they became champions of the workplace change process. They were proud of their new space and made it their own. The real estate team went from being the enemy to hero over a matter of hours — all because the team members changed their role from that of ‘informers’ to ‘partners’.


What are workplace strategies that address human behavior, changes in work patterns, resource scarcity and global pressures to perform? Suggestions and stories from the front line follow.

Create Hyper-Flexible Environments to Support Rapid Change

Organizations are demanding innovation and preparing for an unknown future by removing traditional research boundaries. As with today’s office workplace, the occupants of the scientific workplace of the future will need the ability to quickly and safely reconfigure space to suit changing needs. Laboratories are hosting a new set of tools that do not require scientists to spend as much time there. Automation, robotics and computational research are rendering technical spaces that support fewer human needs and user demands. Coupled with smarter just-in-time and supply chain management, this is driving technical spaces to have smaller footprints, both in terms of bench work and casework, as well as reduced human occupancy demands. This new laboratory space metric is driven by instrumentation needs and equipment sharing, and is less about human needs and demands.

  • Support mobility (at some level) for all employees. Many R&D organizations recognize that their employees are already mobile, and are providing tools to help them be more productive when they are not in the laboratory. This means not only equipping them with smartphones and laptops, but also allowing them to move around in buildings to support different projects and teams. GlaxoSmithKline’s ‘Smart Working’ environment is highly mobile and features workplace settings and technology to support work anywhere, anytime on campus. Smart Working has improved employees’ effectiveness and speed of decision making, increased collaboration and provided easier access to colleagues. The company believes accommodating mobility has allowed employees to generate more ideas and get products to market faster.
  • Allow for choice and customization. Researchers need customization that can be adjusted multiple times over the course of a day. Sit-to-stand desks, adjustable chairs, universal docking stations (lap-jacks) and task lighting are a few examples of the individual customization that can happen quickly to improve employee satisfaction and effectiveness. One company found that, by providing a second monitor option, individuals were 5 to 10 percent more efficient in their work.
  • Provide diverse spaces to support unpredictable activities. Office spaces that work are a mix of space types that support heads-down work, one-on-one discussions, videoconferencing, discussions over coffee or lunch, brainstorming, reviewing documents together and many other unpredictable moments that support the complexity and variety of scientific work.

 Supporting Work in Unconventional Places
Cafes and other areas support work in unconventional places at BioMarin’s office in San Rafael, Calif.

Support Work in Unconventional Places

Although formal laboratories remain important gateways to discovery, the discovery process and subsequent socialization of research findings are no longer restricted to these spaces. Just as the distinctions between sciences are blurring, the types of spaces where researchers spend the majority of their time are changing.

Collaboration is still happening in places like offices, meeting rooms, special project rooms, corridors, staircases and cafeterias. Yet, it is also increasingly occurring through non-traditional means like videoconferences, visualization laboratories and external mechanisms and platforms with partners in research from universities, contract research organizations, venture capitalists and, in some cases, the general public.

  • Provide consistent provisioning for plug and play anywhere on site. Airports have made great strides in accommodating business travelers in concourses with booth seating, plugs or USB ports to power up electronics and wireless access. Companies are following suit by designing similar features into cafeterias, break areas, alcoves, staircases and hallways — places that traditionally have not been for working. One pharmaceutical company claims its executives meet in the coffee shop off the main circulation corridor in their building because it is one of the most confidential spaces they can find. This area is very noisy and it is easier to have conversations there than in a conference room, when employees are likely to wonder what is being discussed.
  • Build beautiful and functional outdoor spaces. Amgen in Thousand Oaks, California, and Genentech in San Francisco have created outdoor spaces that are integral to their researchers’ pathways of confluence. Outdoor park-like and café settings between campus research facilities have been embraced as equally effective at supporting collaboration and socialization of ideas.

Research NeighborhoodsResearch neighborhoods and visual connections will facilitate collaboration and innovation at The Francis Crick Institute in London.

Facilitate Innovation with the Right Collaborative Environments

Scientific breakthroughs are more often the product of teamwork than individual genius. The scientific workplace of the future will bring all types of people together in environments that make it easy for them to see each other, celebrate their accomplishments and share ideas.

  • Create ‘neighborhoods’ to enable new forms of collaboration and connection. Research ‘neighborhoods’ are a careful blend of spaces that support a critical mass of teams and individuals. They are intentionally designed to encourage the exchange of ideas and create a close-knit community (typically 50–200 people). One neighborhood principle has to do with managing circulation — creating ‘crossed paths’ to encourage cross talk between teams. Another principle has to do with allocating shared resources to connect teams operationally.
  • Provide open space to create more visual connections. GSK has created neighborhood areas in such a way that there are no visual impediments to finding a teammate once inside the neighborhood. If acoustical separation was needed, glass walls were used. If plumbing needed to be contained, hard walls were installed when absolutely necessary. A key objective of this design was making it easy to find teammates quickly to accelerate idea-making. To encourage the socialization of ideas at The Francis Crick Institute in London, four laboratory wings called ‘science neighborhoods’ are arranged around a village square in which a dramatic, linear atrium creates central collaboration spaces across multiple communities. As people move through the building towards strategically located shared amenities, they encounter each other as well as quiet, concentrative spaces for small groups and open spaces where they can display achievements.

Use Technology to Untether and Connect Employees in New Ways

To say that technology has transformed the way in which people work is an understatement. But what exactly does it mean for the scientific workplace? In many ways, it is allowing work environments to be reallocated so that there is less space for laboratories and more space for people.

  • Leverage advanced instrumentation and automation to shrink the laboratory footprint. The scientific workplace of the future will have no boundaries separating people from the technology they need. Advances in instrumentation and equipment technologies are promoting more automation, smaller laboratory footprints, miniaturization and a proliferation of mobile technology and wireless applications. All this will untether researchers from their laboratories, freeing them up to work in a variety of environments while collaborating with virtual teams across the world. This focus on maximizing operational efficiencies in the laboratory can be reallocated to other resources such as centralized core laboratories and sharing of other key, highly specialized, scientific instrumentation.
  • Put in more technology infrastructure. Companies should consider bolstering the wireless data network and cellphone coverage throughout facilities. For employees who work in hoteling or drop-in areas, mobile work technology might include monitors, docking stations, voice over internet protocol (VOIP) and follow-me functionality. Scattering web and videoconferencing throughout collaboration spaces allows global teams to connect anytime, anywhere. Enabling FaceTime, Skype and other video technologies on smart devices allows more to be communicated through facial expression, which improves communication and saves time and money.
  • Enable collaboration outside of the organization. The complex problem-solving demands of research increasingly are requiring scientists to collaborate with others outside their own business unit or organization, including with their customers or the broader research community. Many companies are developing platforms that enable their scientists to share meaningful results with their peers, collaborators and the general public. Creating a setting that allows them to share successes and failures among their peers, investors and customers allows them rapidly to solve complex problems. Some big pharmaceutical companies are embracing open-source technology platforms to foster communication and collaboration on real-time discovery successes and challenges, which ultimately leads to breakthroughs. London-based AstraZeneca is accomplishing this through a blog — ‘Lab Talk’ — which covers science and research and strives to create an internal and external forum for sharing ideas as the company tries to look beyond its walls for new breakthroughs and products.13 Similarly, a number of research-focused blogs, such as Pfizer’s ‘Think Science Now’ and Eli Lilly’s ‘Clinical Open Innovation’, are avenues for big pharmaceutical companies to boost their R&D profiles.

Connection to the Bigger Picture
The scientific workplace of the future will integrate reinforcement of a larger purpose. Image: GlaxoSmithKline office.

Use Branding to Help Employees Understand Their Role in the Big Picture

Research environments are integrating more reminders of the greater purpose driving an organization’s success. This includes more deliberate branding of the workplace environment to communicate how the research aligns with the organization’s strategic business objectives and enhances the lives of its customers.

  • Use space to communicate brand and purpose. Pharmaceutical companies are leveraging branding as an opportunity to connect scientists with the people they ultimately serve. Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly and GSK, for example, use large-format graphics throughout their space, featuring images of scientists and the people they ultimately serve. Highly visible spaces also can be used to celebrate success and milestone achievements of project teams, and encourage conversation and collaboration among a variety of divisions.
  • Use health and well-being to enhance the workplace. Health and well-being programs are becoming more integrated and sophisticated and have been aggressively adopted by many pharmaceutical and healthcare organizations given their mission. Companies issue pedometers and create competitions between employee groups to encourage movement through-out the day. This is a tactic referred to as ‘gamification,’ or feeding off people’s naturally competitive spirits. In addition, companies are building gyms, fitness centers, outdoor walking paths, sit-to-stand desks, treadmill workstations and other features into the built environment to reduce insurance risk while providing amenities.

Be Environmentally Sustainable Because It Is Good for Business

Because research environments require significantly more energy to operate than traditional office spaces, energy-efficient design that reduces operational costs is becoming more of an expectation than an exception. Strategies on the demand side include incorporating environmentally responsible practices such as green chemistry and implementing just-in-time delivery for hazardous materials. On the supply side, strategies include reducing the environmental footprint of a building through energy recovery, electrical sub-metering, air quality monitoring and reduced ventilation in laboratories. Most of these strategies have simple paybacks that affect companies’ bottom lines with incremental upfront costs.

  • Make buildings more desirable to occupy. Green facilities not only reduce operating costs but also increase revenue for building owners since tenants are more likely to occupy them than non-green facilities. In fact, building values are expected to increase by 7.5 percent, occupancy by 3.5 percent, rents by 3 percent and the return on investment by 6.6 percent or more for green buildings.14 This increase means it is less expensive to operate green facilities and easier to lease them, often making them a better overall investment.
  • Increase utilization. It has been said that ‘the greenest square foot is the one not built.’ In 2009, GlaxoSmithKline relocated 1,500 administrative offices and 300 laboratory staff. These relocations towards more mobile, agile work environments have allowed for the closure or disposal of three campuses and termination of several leases. Specifically, this strategy eliminated 1,371,900 gross square feet of owned and leased structures, significantly reducing annual operating costs.

    Johnson & Johnson recently consolidated 200,000 gross square feet across three discovery research facilities into one 90,000 gross square feet facility. In addition to increasing operational efficiency, the move has increased collaboration across laboratory staff, simplified operations and saved significant space and equipment costs.

  • Reduce energy use. Because laboratories use five to eight times more energy than office spaces, reducing the number of air changes in a laboratory, coupled with reheat energy capture, is the most effective means to this end. By utilizing energy recovery, manifolding laboratory exhaust streams and minimizing reheat energy use in laboratories, an owner can expect to see operational expense reductions in the range of 20-35 percent in temperate climates. By utilizing low-pressure-drop strategies and chilled beams, and reducing lighting levels and plug loads, an additional 10-15 percent in savings can be achieved.
  • Reduce water use. In the life sciences industry, water, energy and waste are intertwined, and requirements for consistent, high-quality water for production and wastewater treatment are becoming even more demanding as regulatory discharge limits become more stringent. To meet these challenges, companies must question conventional thinking and typical approaches and, to remain competitive, explore new technologies and solutions. With the high process water demands for research and manufacturing environments, including deionized, reverse osmosis, purified and water for injection systems on the supply side, and glass washers, autoclaves and cage washers on the demand side, water efficiency provides a huge opportunity for savings. Low-flow fixtures, reusing condensate and reducing rinse cycles are just a few means of reducing water use on the demand side.

    According to Labs21: ‘One of the most important ways to begin using water more efficiently is to create a water balance. A water balance shows the sources and uses of water on a site. It can be very detailed or cover only major uses; it can show usage at the whole site or in certain buildings or operations. The objective is to show where and how water is being used, what the sources are and how much water is being disposed of. In new facilities, a balance can help designers plan equipment layouts and identify opportunities for greater efficiency. In existing facilities, it can help laboratory managers identify leaks, other losses and possible misuses. Although it is not possible to account for every drop, well-managed facilities can usually account for 85 per cent to 95 per cent of the water they purchase.15


With so many variables and challenges, an enormous amount of resources goes into planning, designing and operating effective research and laboratory environments. Everything ranging from accommodating a more mobile workforce, new models of collaboration, emerging technology, the next generation of researchers and sustainable design goals goes into the formula for success.

Like the practice of science itself, the formula for creating the ideal scientific workplace continues to evolve. Ultimately, the best research environments help organizations to focus on the research. They are about testing new ideas, measuring outcomes and making improvements over time to transform not only the workplace but also the work happening there. Treating the office, traditional laboratory and all the work spaces in-between as ‘one big laboratory’ for new ideas, processes and technologies is appropriate and perhaps essential for advancing the science that happens there.

This report originally appeared in Corporate Real Estate Journal, Volume 3 Number 1, published by Henry Stewart Publications. 

About the Author


Joseph Ostafi is a regional principal for HOK’s science and technology group. He has more than 15 years’ experience of planning and designing research environments for public and private clients. He has special expertise with projects for science and technology organizations focused on clean energy, biotechnology, pharmaceutical and light industrial research and development. Joseph has planned high-performance, sustainable, research environments for leading organizations including Battelle, Pfizer, Genentech, Genzyme, Eli Lilly and Company, ConocoPhillips, Cummins, John Deere, the US Department of Energy, the University of Wisconsin, Purdue University and Stony Brook University. Joseph has been a featured speaker on the planning and design of laboratory facilities at industry events for Tradeline, Labs21 and Cleantech. He has testified at a US House Committee on Science and Technology hearing on ‘Options and Opportunities for Onsite Renewable Energy’. Joseph is a member of the American Institute of Architects, National Council of Architectural Registration Boards and the US Green Building Council. 


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