The Resilient Laboratory

Lisa Matthiessen, Wilson HGA
Marcell Graeff, Wilson HGA

Buildings are designed to be expendable. Codes focus on safe evacuation in an emergency, not on keeping buildings occupiable through a disaster. With climate change, displacement due to damage from extreme weather events are more common. Is building to code minimums really enough? This workshop will take you through the process of planning laboratories with resilient design principles in mind. We will discuss the following tough questions you will want to ask during your lab design process:

  • What are the risks to my facility from man-made and natural disasters or from long term trends (climate change)?
  • What are the potential direct, indirect, and consequential damages from an event?
  • What can I do to mitigate the risks?
  • How redundant do systems like back-up power need to be?
  • What tools can I use to guide the design process?

Learning Objectives

  • Identify developing frameworks for resilient design;
  • Identify hazards, disruption modes, and potential impacts of events;
  • Discuss how the nature of the facility (a laboratory) affects response to the disruption modes; and
  • Explore risk mitigation modes using real-world project examples.


Lisa Matthiessen leads HGA's approach to high-performance building design, guides research and education, and supports industry-leading projects. Throughout her career, Lisa has progressed from designing individual buildings that set new green benchmarks, to framing the national dialogue on sustainable design through her work on national committees, associations, and forums. Lisa is also known for her research into the cost implications of building green.

Marcell Graeff draws on over 20 years of experience with complex projects for K-12 and higher education clients. Marcell has a long-standing interest in sustainable design with a focus on high-performance building envelopes, passive house, healthy building materials, renewable energy, and resiliency. Marcell earned a Bachelor of Architecture from Syracuse University.


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