Collateral Damage: Avoiding Unexpected Costs and Scope in Complex Renovations of Dense Lab Environments

Tuesday, April 24, 2:20 - 3:10 PM

Conceptual design is rife with dollar per square foot calculations to give institutions a ROM (rough order of magnitude) price on various capital project ideas. What is often overlooked is the collateral damage to the adjacent spaces and the base building operations required to do the project. The inherent cost of dismantling existing spaces—only to have to rebuild them back to look the same as they were before the construction—is a very real prospect on technically challenging projects such as BSL-3 laboratories.

This need to rebuild what already exists is partially because the more technically challenging the project, the greater and more dedicated the mechanical systems have to become. This transition from standardized house systems to project specific dedicated systems can have far reaching implications to the adjacent infrastructure. It is this relocation, re-engineering and replacement of the standard house MEP systems to accommodate specific dedicated systems that we have coined “collateral damage.”

To truly understand the complete scope of the most complex renovations it is necessary to define how the schedule, building location, utility needs and programmatic phasing interact. An often-overlooked aspect of this project planning is evaluating the existing utility delivery system and its effect on the cost, schedule and phasing of the project. This becomes very evident when a small 1000 sf renovation project has the potential to shut down 100,000’s of sf of operating laboratories repeatedly during the course of a construction project to allow for a variety of utility tie-ins. The financial repercussions of such downtime to a tier one international research organization such as The Broad Institute is extreme.

By looking at these especially complex projects differently, owners can minimize financial, schedule and operational risk. This presentation will articulate some of the common pitfalls that afflict modern laboratory designs and outline many of the proposed design adjustments being implemented at The Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts. What are the challenges in this type of project? Identifying the full scope of a project prior to establishing a budget plague every project type, but it becomes increasingly challenging when you add intense complexity, renovation, continuous operation, as well as a challenging location into the equation. This session will offer a roadmap to organizing and implementing a path forward—not by restricting ideas but by discussing important design topics informed both by past experience as well as ongoing construction drivers.

Attendees will learn:

• How to use innovative design to solve persistent laboratory renovation issues.

• How to minimize the financial risk of construction over-runs.

• How to avoid typical design assumptions that could potentially hinder the construction process.

• How to integrate programming, phasing and existing conditions into the project schedule.

AIA LU Credit: 1