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Resource Consumption in Laboratories: A Cultural Phenomenon

Ken Kornberg, AIA, and Mike Mulvey, Kornberg Associates

In the late 19th Century, Louis Pasteur's remarkable discoveries were accomplished on a table with merely a Bunsen burner and ice boxes. Over the next 100 years, as the United States became the world leader in scientific discovery, the American research community ascribed to the theory that "more" would get better and quicker results. With what seemed like a limitless supply, laboratories became enormous consumers of both energy and monetary resources.

As environmental concerns have increased, the greening of America has inevitably touched the hallowed research laboratory. Because the U.S. continues to be the world's largest consumer of resources, we must discover practical solutions to reduce our consumption in the laboratory environment. The speakers will discuss the importance of learning from our global neighbors who have been better stewards of the environment.

Beginning with our first international laboratory project in 1989, a research campus for Université Louis Pasteur in Strasbourg, France, Kornberg Associates has studied the geographic and cultural differences that impact the laboratory environment. This presentation will discuss how clients with very different cultural views and funding extremes in Europe, Japan, Dubai, Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore, and Shanghai have produced different methods of doing the same type of research. Comparisons will be made to U.S. laboratories in universities, government institutes, pharmaceutical facilities, and biotech companies.

The speakers will discuss geographic and cultural differences that affect how energy is brought to the building, how utilities are used and supplied, how different laboratory procedures are carried out, how laboratories respond to climate extremes, and how inexpensive labor produces unique solutions to laboratory use and maintenance. Waldek Kaczmarski and Ken Kornberg will suggest ways in which design solutions unique to conditions in other regions can be utilized to benefit the global research community.


Ken Kornberg was raised in a family of academic research scientists and schooled in both architecture and engineering at Stanford University; his background has been invaluable in developing the firm's design specialty. His first project was a laboratory renovation for Stanford University's Department of Genetics. Since then, he has completed more than 400 laboratory projects world wide. Over the past 28 years Ken has earned an international reputation for his understanding and unwavering commitment to improving the laboratory environment.

As a recognized authority on laboratory design, Ken is often called upon to speak about this specialty. Ken is a member of the American Institute of Architects, the Society for College and University Planning, and International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering. His community involvement includes a six-year term on the Palo Alto Architectural Review Board, serving for the past year as its chairman. Ken has also served as an advisor to the National Institutes of Health for research construction grant review.

The Latest in Laboratory Design, focusing on Kornberg Associates' recent work, was published in Japan in 2006. A second book is in publication in Japan and focuses on the body of Ken's work since 1979.

Mike Mulvey's international design experience began in South Africa, moved on to the United Kingdom where he worked on several projects in the Middle East, followed by two years living and working in the Sultanate of Oman, after which he returned to his architectural design roots in South Africa before emigrating to the United States. Following this rather nomadic start to his architectural career, Mike joined Kornberg Associates in 1990. The rewarding experience of living and working in other areas of the world provides Mike with valuable insight into how regional and cultural differences can affect the architecture of a locale. For nearly two decades he has been utilizing his unique perspective to design research facilities for Kornberg's clients worldwide.

Mike's international work includes Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire for Universit é Louis Pasteur in Strasbourg, France; Okinawa Institute of Science & Technology, Okinawa, Japan, a government funded graduate university; Brenner Centre for Molecular Medicine, a research facility in Singapore to support some Biopolis scientists; and Dubai's first biotech facility which was designed to establish the most advanced genome sequencing facility in that part of the world. Mike received his BArch degree from University of Cape Town. He is the director of operations for Kornberg's San Diego office and is a principal of the firm. Mike is a member of both the AIA and RIBA.

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