Raising the Bar: Regenerative Design Thinking and
Laboratory Project Process
Margaret Montgomery and Allen
Programs such as Labs21 and LEED are pushing the laboratory
typology in an exciting direction: providing the incentive to examine
their distinct environmental impacts and find the solutions for
reducing their energy consumption. As more designers, owners, and
government agencies become cognizant of sustainable building principles,
it is assumed that the benefits to society will increase measurably,
both in terms of the economy and quality of life. However, it may
be that designers' and owners' reliance on the established "green"
checklists will lead to a disconnect from larger contextual issues.
To investigate this concern, we would like to take a step back from
the standard procedures and look more broadly at our project's place
in the world.
From its initial conception in the owner's mind, to its impact
on the environment, role in society, and economic livelihood, we
are seeking a more holistic process. We are developing a new set
of tools that will help to shape the questions, propose the answers,
and track the design to achieve a unified, regenerative solution.
The presentation will focus on four key issues during the life
of a project and utilize examples from project experience, research,
Owner Project Ideation
Regenerative design cannot be accomplished with a checklist and
does not end when the contractor and design team deliver a completed
building. It requires visionary approaches that begin with the conception
of a need in an Owner's mind and thoughtful, holistic decision making
at all levels, involving as many participants as possible.
Statement and Follow-thru of Project Goals & Objectives
The project design should support the mission and purpose of the
laboratory. This relationship should provide the basis for regenerative
design decision making which will motivate all parties to maintain
the vision of the facility.
Full Project Life Cycle Links
Regenerative design, at its best, is the building and its occupants
becoming a living part of the community and the ecosystem, while
having a lifetime of positive influence on both. The entire project
team needs to participate in designing new ways to track and improve
this influence over the lifetime of our buildings. Participation
by the project team from conception, design, and construction and
beyond will provide opportunities to track and improve Regeneration
over the lifespan of the building.
Integration: How Much and When
We must be mindful of our every move in creating buildings. The
cooperation of owners, contractors, facility managers, researchers,
agencies, manufactures, community groups and design professionals
are imperative because we create buildings and places whose influence
forever remains on the world in which we live.
William Reed describes regenerative design as the need to break
500 years of bad thinking. "Sustaining" is not good enough.
Regenerative design does not target buildings but the whole project
process. Broadening the scope of what is considered "whole
building perspective" supports breaking old ways of thinking
without creating more bad habits. Laboratory design can offer great
opportunity to increase our scope of what systems the project team
considers without focusing on specific components. It is in the
systems, building, site, financial, that project teams find intelligent
solutions to the complex matrix of creating and running a laboratory
As the key players change throughout the life of a project, regenerative
design ties them all together; therefore, the efforts will not be
lost in the big picture. Developing a framework to understand the
"whole picture" provides a tool to bring us closer to
the reality of regenerative design, thus supporting a better world.
Margaret Montgomery is a key proponent of sustainable and
regenerative design at NBBJ. Throughout her twenty years as an architect,
her experience has spanned a variety of project types, but always
with a view to environmental sensitivity. As a part of NBBJ's Science
and Education practice, Margaret is currently focused on devising
sustainable research environments for the future. She takes a holistic
approach, looking for opportunities to push each project towards
a positive outcome for both the human experience and the ecosystem
we inhabit. In this way she ensures an intrinsic link between her
work and the sustainable values that guide her life.
Margaret is a licensed architect and LEED 2.0 accredited
professional. She often represents NBBJ at sustainable seminars
across the country, and has been active in Labs21 for several years.
Her current projects include a University of Washington chemistry
laboratory that is piloting the campus' first low-energy fume hoods,
and the Medical College of Georgia's Cancer Research Center. She
is particularly interested in finding design solutions to improve
the environmental impact of laboratories.
Allen Schaffer is an architect
with over 15 years of experience in the architectural and construction
industry. He believes that he has a responsibility to provide the
highest quality design within the parameters of environmental stewardship,
financial responsibility and social consciousness. Through his project
work he has demonstrated a sensitivity to client issues, accurate
and timely dissemination of information, responsible follow-through
and an ability to lead a project team through transformational design
He holds an architectural license in two states, NCARB certificate
and is a LEED 2.0 Accredited Professional. Mr. Schaffer served
on the executive committee of the USGBC St. Louis chapter in 2003.
He has made presentations on various sustainable design topics at
various venues including: Greenbuild 2003, 2003 SCUP North Central
conference, HOK Sustainable Design Bootcamp and at the Washington
University School of Architecture. While with HOK and currently
at NBBJ, Mr. Schaffer is an active leader of sustainable design
within the firm.
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