Flexibility vs. Adaptability vs. Resiliency: The Lab Design Trifecta

Calina Ferraro, Integral Group
Kacie McLamb, Integral Group

Designing for life science facilities in today's fast-paced R&D environment requires considerations for how the facility is going to be used, both now and in the future. Flexibility, adaptability and resiliency are terms often used together but rarely defined.

How do we cost-effectively shell-out unknown future lab space? What happens as research becomes more analytical and less bench-driven? How do we maintain interior precision when future design conditions are changing unpredictably? What happens when the incubator start-up needs room to grow? Or the high-tech office wants to move into the previous lab space to get the high floor-to-floor and extra ventilation? In the current rush to meet the need for lab space, what happens if the market overbuilds or demand wanes?

Using real life examples and design strategies, we explore the differences between designing highly flexible spaces to meet ever evolving demands, to being able to adapt a building to different uses, to being able to sustain the function of that building in an increasingly unpredictable environment. Furthermore, we examine how to we balance this trifecta of goals while still maintaining highly sustainable, carbon-minimized, and cost-effective facilities.

Learning Objectives

  • Identify strategies that improve the future flexibility of lab/life science spaces;
  • Identify strategies that improve the future adaptability of lab/life science spaces;
  • Identify strategies that improve the future resilience of lab/life science spaces; and
  • Describe how flexibility, adaptability, and resiliency can support or challenge sustainability goals.


Calina is a professional mechanical engineer and LEED AP with 15 years of sustainable design experience in life science, commercial, higher education, and civic projects. She leads Integral Group's San Diego office providing deep green engineering solutions across the Western U.S.

With more than 15 years experience in market sectors from aviation and higher education to healthcare and life sciences, Kacie has a passion for team development and training as well as a commitment to well-executed projects and sustainable design. Throughout her career she has taken on project management roles, lead engineer roles and management. She has been a guest subject matter expert for architecture studios at Woodbury University school of Architecture and University of Southern California School of Architecture. She has also acted as a juror for the 2015 U.S. Green Building Council Innovation in Design Awards in Los Angeles. Kacie currently manages a team of engineers on the West Coast, coordinating team assignments, managing workloads, and training a strong bench for Integral Group.


Note: Abstracts and biographies are displayed as submitted by the author(s) with the exception of minor edits for style, grammar consistency, and length.