Article originally appeared in Laboratory Design on September 13, 2017.
Laboratory Design spoke with Anna Evangelista, an Architect-2 at TRIA in Boston.
How did you get into your field?
I grew up in a family with a long line of masons. From an early age, I would ask my dad to bring me with him to his construction sites. I loved reviewing floor plans in an attempt to envision what the final project would look like. When it was time for me to choose my career path, architecture was a no-brainer.
I attended Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, where I received both a Bachelor of Science in Architecture and a Master of Architecture. While at Wentworth, I accepted a position as junior project designer at Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research, working on the expansion project of their Cambridge, Mass. campus. That was when my interest in laboratory design began. After the completion of the project, I was hired by design firm TRIA, where I am happy to be challenged everyday to expand my skills and knowledge of laboratory design.
What is a typical day for you?
A typical day for me in the office involves a number of different responsibilities, ranging from programming and design development to construction documentation, for one or several projects. During the programming phase of a project, I am actively involved in end-user meetings when we collect user requirement information using methods such as room cards, data sheets and adjacency diagrams. During this phase, I am also involved in capturing information on existing equipment and documenting existing conditions. In addition to programming, I am also involved in the development of laboratory design and layouts, as well as the documentation and detailing of both the lab and office portions of projects.
What’s a common mistake made by those working on designing/constructing a laboratory?
A common mistake made by some lab designers is not taking the time to fully understand the requirements and function of the laboratory equipment within the scope of the project. Many firms do not include equipment surveying as part of their service, and I find that to be a huge oversight. Equipment is a key driver to understanding the lab’s function and user workflow. Surveying and researching the equipment utility requirements just makes for smart and efficient lab design. If equipment surveying is completed, additional specific mechanical, electrical or plumbing services needed during the construction phase can be avoided.
What was your favorite college class?
My favorite college class, hands-down, was my Master year’s studio, where we travelled to Istanbul and studied the city’s evolution in form and urban design. Istanbul is such an amazing city! It’s the perfect blend of historical context and contemporary development. Walking through the streets, I never felt so connected to a place. The culture is so vibrant and vivid through its architecture. Although urban design isn’t my area of focus per se, the biggest thing I took away from the studio class is that culture implies design.
What advice do you have for people just starting their career, or for students who are thinking of majoring in architecture/engineering/etc.?
My advice to those who are just beginning their architecture career is to explore job opportunities that may seem out of the ordinary. In architecture school, students are exposed to a variety of different projects, but the architecture world has so much more to offer! You will never know what typology of design you can fall in love with unless you try. Laboratory design wasn’t even a thought for me while in school, but once exposed to it, I knew I had found my niche.