Space Science

Flexible designs give scientists the options needed for collaboration, discovery
Flexible designs give scientists the options needed for collaboration discovery
Researchers in Bernardo Sabatini's neurobiology lab work independently yet have the option—and the opportunity—to share ideas and advice with colleagues. Chuck Choi, photographer

By Elizabeth Cooney

The scientists and architects huddled deep within one of the century-old structures framing Harvard Medical School’s Quad. To one side stood wooden lockers; in a nearby corner, a winding staircase; and in front of the group, a wall. To them, however, it was not just a wall, it was a canvas, one on which they would execute a bold new idea.

To flip U.S. architect Louis Sullivan’s famous phrase, when it comes to designing spaces for discovery, form no longer simply follows function: It defines it. For the past decade, laboratories on the Quad and throughout academia and biotech have been reclaiming the spaces that have tethered solitary scientists to bench and equipment.

Now, laboratories are flexible, capable of accommodating and commingling the scientific pursuits of both individual researchers and research teams. Design fosters collaboration, often incorporating concepts that accommodate the patterns of movement that bring people together—and help propel ideas. The goal, say scientists and architects, is to have laboratory spaces play an active part in shaping what is possible.

Read more here. Bernardo Sabatini and Dragana Rogulja are quoted.