The Cost of Constant Churn in Research Space Design and What to Do About It

The Cost of Constant Churn in Research Space Design and What to Do About It

By: Jill Mendoza

Churn in the built environment typically denotes unwanted disruption brought on by constant change. It goes by a lot of names but Churn, is like a brewing storm on the horizon, which can be a very costly and disruptive event.

Churn, especially in scientific environments, does not need to signify the coming of a bad storm.  In a recent published Tradeline Report called “Five Space Planning Principles to Avoid the Inefficiencies of Research Program Turnover” the author notes:

Churn—it’s the constant, costly reality of research space utilization, with a price tag that’s often underestimated. The opportunity for organizations to realize cost savings, operational streamlining, and overall efficiencies amid the inevitable swapping of research teams and space during renovations and equipment relocation’s, asserts Mark Allen, AIA, architect and principal at Wilson HGA; and Jeanne MacLellan, principal of Dowling Houy. “Even with a client who’s in the midst of a renovation, we know that, in three to four years, they are going to be renovating again,” explains MacLellan. “We’re not eliminating churn and its inefficiencies; we’re maximizing options now that will minimize its impact down the road.”

In this article they describe how, by maximizing options now it will minimize costs down the road, interdisciplinary teams made it easy to spot general trends that are occurring in genomic and biotech space and resource usage by applying specific design and facility management strategies.

The trends included:

  • Research remains increasingly equipment-dependent.
  • Many institutions are moving away from HVAC-heavy use.
  • And many see an increase in workplace collaboration and computational work.

Such as the time when we worked with our client from a large Pharma company last fall where we were tasked with planning several lab renovations.  They were interested in developing a plan that would re-purpose existing furniture and lab related equipment and asked our team to evaluate the current equipment and furniture needs against the existing inventory.

One of the churn controls we used as a process on that project was called ‘Resource Management’.  We took inventory of every piece of furniture and equipment, even down to cataloging each dimension, not just for the floor-standing equipment but also for the bench top instruments. We also made sure that our counterpart on the client’s team and the contractors would be true partners in the reuse of resources. We were upfront about what we intended to reuse and what could be salvaged for others and received agreement from the team for our plan. This kept the churn costs manageable. The results showed that the team was able to realize a cost savings of a whopping $414,000!

If your next storm of churn is brewing in your facility, use the Resource Management Method. You’ll save money, avoid churn headaches and deliver a great project to a happy client every time.

If you’d like to learn more about designing a space in the life sciences industry, connect with us at Jill@idoincorporated.com and read about our success stories on www.idoincorporated.com