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How Evolving Biocontainment Agendas And An Increase In Support Apparatus Impact Laboratory Design Requirements

Michael R. Somin, AIA, Earl Walls Associates


There is a new laboratory planning type that is evolving in part due to September 11, 2001. Biocontainment is presenting a new form of laboratory that has grown into a major building type. Biocontainment facilities are being designed for private sector, agricultural, governmental health, and university research for both national/ international facilities. The studies are divergent and include contagious diseases, new drug discovery, plant and insect pests, animal diseases and bioterrorism. The space requirements have increased from two room suites five years ago to entire floors of research and clinical facilities in current designs. More and larger lab apparatus, the need to share the facilities with many group efforts, along with new directions of investigative and safety requirements are forcing the area increase. Designing for energy conservation and sustainable design in such an environment is challenging with the emerging guidelines for such facilities becoming more restrictive. Learn what issues confront the design of similar facilities.


Michael R. Somin is an internationally recognized authority on the programming and design of laboratories. As one of five principals in the firm, Mr. Somin has participated in many of Earl Walls Associates' most highly acclaimed and award-winning facilities. His 40 years of experience includes designing hundreds of laboratory projects for myriad clients representing commerce, government, academia, health care and institutional research; housing nearly every scientific discipline and ranging in all sizes and levels of complexity. These services have encompassed Facility Assessment, Master Planning, Programming, Grant Proposal Assistance, Schematic Assistance, Design Development (Program Drawings), Construction Documents and Construction Services.

Mr. Somin received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Illinois and is a member of the American Institute of Architects, American Chemical Society, American Association for Laboratory Animal Science, and Labs for the 21st Century. He has been a speaker and presenter for numerous organizations and associations within the design industry.

Earl Walls Associates is an architectural and engineering firm specializing in laboratory design, planning, and engineering. With over 1,500 laboratory projects since their founding in 1961, the firm has received numerous accolades, including being the recipient of 18 honors by R&D Magazine's Laboratory of the Year competition, as well as recognition by the American Institute of Architects for their significant contribution to the industry.

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