How to Build Flexibility into Life Science Projects

Life Science
  • 26 Jun 2023
  • by
  • Aileen Rutland
  • Marketing Manager, Life Science Construction
Anthony Giuliano, Lendlease’s General Manager of Life Science Construction in the Americas, details how the company’s forward-thinking, flexible approach to building life science spaces ensures a best-in-class experience for clients.

It's no secret that in recent years the construction industry has seen a rise in demand for Life Science builds. While the need for typical Life Science structures such as laboratories, manufacturing facilities, data centers and warehouses still remains, there’s been a tangible uptick in non-traditional structures like repositioning and renovations of existing spaces.

For decades, clients have trusted Lendlease to build dynamic, future-proof facilities that spur the next generation of scientific breakthroughs – all while keeping flexibility at top of mind.

In his recent article ‘How to Build Flexibility Into Life Science Projects’  for Commercial Property Executive, Anthony Giuliano details the array of construction components that are essential to consider in order to successfully build on the past and foster innovation for the future: “While much of this adaptability is incorporated in the design phase, there are a number of construction factors and considerations that are critical elements, too.”

Anthony is quick to point out that Life Science projects have a different set of demands than other property types, noting the spaces require “higher power loads, more robust HVAC systems and higher-capacity water and gas lines”. While these added elements call for a larger upfront investment, Giuliano assures that “building in extra mechanical space prepares a life science facility for future equipment switch-outs and upgrades.”

Converting existing spaces, however, can create challenges in the MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) arena. Lendlease’s Pfizer Plasmids project serves as the perfect example of repurposing a space that, Anthony recalls, was not initially designed for the “magnitude of MEP services required by the new equipment.” After conducting an in-depth laser scan of existing structural systems, the team at Pfizer Plasmids successfully demolished and relocated many of the existing MEP services without disturbing ongoing operations at the facility.

Connection points are another critical element to consider when building flexibility into a space. Lendlease installs specialized ceiling utility panels on both laboratory and research & development projects for a seamless transition between projects. The inclusion of these panels allows for different components of the laboratory to be added or moved throughout the workspace without interrupting current tasks.

pfizer plasmids

ABOVE: Ceiling Utility Panel with plug-in connections for electric,
water, gas and any other systems.

Not to be outshone, the process of prefabrication is arguably the most familiar tool when it comes to building flexibility into a space and is utilized across all Lendlease’s ongoing Life Science projects. The biggest benefit? Time saved: “Using preassembled units can be faster and cleaner than traditional on-site fabrication, making this method an especially good match for life science properties that may need to be adapted quickly while maintaining seamless, secure and sanitary operations in adjacent areas of the facility”.

Finally, the original design of a laboratory serves as a key barometer of enduring flexibility. By having certain elements built in at the onset of the build, Anthony explains, reconfigurations of the space will be easier to incorporate if and when the time comes for change. For example, implementing column spaces to allow for future layout reworks helps eliminate the need for added structural support when switching equipment out” down the line.

Offering a final piece of advice, Anthony reinforces the critical role construction managers and their teams play in the delivery of these spaces: “…anticipate not just what that facility needs in order to function today, but also what will give it the flexibility to continue to perform and support innovation in the future.”

Click here to learn more about our integrated approach to Life Science construction.

Feeling social? Feel free to connect with Anthony Giuliano on LinkedIn, here. 

Life Science