Modularity in Laboratories: Is It Effective and Is
Punit Jain, Cannon Design
Modularity in laboratories has been the mantra for
many years now, but the question is, is modularity still effective
and is it really sustainable?
A hypothesis is that modularity is effective, widely used, and
sustainable. This poster will go a step further and
show the concept of universal grid and how it successfully applies
to laboratory planning and design. The poster will use real project examples
to demonstrate to the attendees this hypothesis.
Space is a premium and should be designed for efficient use and
serve multiple functions. Resources are scarce and therefore design
concepts should not generate construction waste or need wasteful
modifications when a researcher or research changes. Excessive use
of energy is detrimental to our existence; hence design ideas that
require fewer materials and efficient use of space that is easily
modifiable, thus reducing the overall embodied energy, are most
sustainable. Through examples, this poster will show how we should
design and outfit our laboratories that consider all three of these
In the ever changing world of science and research, conventional
benchtop research, though still in use, is no longer the only modality.
Research is supported and sometimes carried out using only complex
pieces of equipment. The equipment varies in size and as technology
develops, the size and type changes. Modular design is able to easily
adapt to these needs and changes. Today’s biomedical research
laboratories may be tomorrow’s computer laboratories, today’s
research laboratoriess may be tomorrow’s teaching laboratoriess; easy adaptability
is the key to ultimate sustainability. To reduce our impact on the
planet earth, we will have to reduce new building activity and reuse
existing buildings; just continuing to build sustainable buildings
is not the answer. Flexibility and adaptability will help us achieve
this goal. How a modular design will also be flexible will be demonstrated
in this poster.
Changing equipment needs affect the utility and infrastructure
need. Modularity in laboratories allows locating systems and utilities
in a modular fashion that make them readily available, eliminating
expensive infrastructure modifications. This saves resources and
time. This flexibility also allows the use of flexible and modular
furniture systems that are less labor intensive to install and save
valuable time during first installation and future modifications.
In summary, the concept of universal grid will demonstrate how
modular construction is efficient, economical to design and build
and modify due to changes in research and research teams, while
enhancing flexibility across disciplines.
an associate vice president at Cannon Design, earned Bachelor's degree in
Architecture from the Indian Institute of Technology at Roorkee
and a Master's in Architecture and Construction Management from Washington
University. With more than 15 years of professional experience,
he has dedicated his career to sustainable design. As Cannon Design’s
sustainable design coordinator, Punit is responsible for promoting
He is currently working on the following sustainable laboratory
projects: Biomedical Research Building One for Washington University
in St. Louis, the LEED®-registered Health Sciences Research building
for Saint Louis University, and Stoffer Hall Science Building for
Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas.
A Rotary Foundation Scholar and recipient of honor awards from
the National Institute of Architectural Education, New York, and
the American Institute of Architects, St. Louis, he has been invited
to present and moderate on wide ranging topics at conferences nationwide
including Labs21, Missouri Biotechnology Association, and Greenbuild.
He has taught at St. Louis Community College and Maryville University
and has been a visiting critic to Washington University and University
of Illinois at Urbana, Champaign. He has been published and quoted
in publications such as R&D Magazine, St. Louis
Commerce, St. Louis Post Dispatch, St. Louis Business
Journal, and Approach.
Punit, a LEED Accredited Professional, is chairman of the St. Louis
Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the Heartland
Regional Council of USGBC, and the Ecology and Environmental Advisory
Committee of the City of Clayton. He is also a USGBC National Board
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