The Case for Adaptive Reuse: Lab Edition

Ryan Ford, CRB
Josh Mead, CRB

Demand for laboratory space has grown tremendously in the past year, accelerated by the pandemic, which has put in the forefront the need for research and development facilities for life sciences. On the flip side, commercial spaces, such as office and retail, have been left vacant due to continued restrictions and much of the workforce moving to remote work. These trends have combined to create an increase on demand for repurposing properties designed for non-scientific used into laboratory space.

This presentation will focus on discussing strategies to successfully reinvent existing properties for laboratory use, the benefits of adaptive reuse compared to new construction, tools to evaluate existing properties for the intended use, and through case studies review the unique challenges and opportunities when repurposing for the life sciences.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the benefits of adaptive reuse compared to new construction;
  • Review the unique challenges of different building types when adapted for life sciences;
  • Learn how to evaluate potential properties for feasibility for the intended use; and
  • Identify strategies to create a successful laboratory space in an existing building.


Ryan Ford, a CRB Project Manager and Architect, brings more than 14 years of experience in programming, design and Project Management. Ryan enjoys the technically complex aspects of laboratory design that require unique attention to planning and execution. His project experience includes Pharmaceutical facilities, Animal Health, Medical Device Manufacturing, R&D and Incubator laboratories, as well as Developer based projects across the U.S.

Josh Mead, a CRB Mechanical Engineer with 12 years of experience in the design of HVAC and mechanical utilities science and technology facilities. Josh enjoys the challenges that come with the mechanical systems design for S+T projects. His experience includes R+D labs, BSL, and Vivarium design for private and public sector clients.


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