Solutions to help Speed-to-Market Drug Researchers

Solutions to help Speed-to-Market Drug Researchers


February 16, 2022


Edwin Hargrave

Staff Bio

Edwin Hargrave

Lab renderings of speculative suites,
located at Berkeley Investments, 200 Exchange, Malden, MA.

Science and Technology Planner lends expert design considerations for a new market of Spec Research Suites

The race to develop new drugs has developers—and TRIA—offering innovative solutions when state of the art lab space is hard to find.

When Berkeley Investments did a comprehensive redevelopment of 200 Exchange in Malden, they collaborated with TRIA to help develop speculative lab suites (spec suites), attracting tenants in the market who need to act quickly, and are looking for more of a “move-in-ready” option. Spec suites provide the unique ability to house their offices, R&D/lab & GMPc facilities under one roof with little or minimal customization.

What makes them unique?

Associate Principal Edwin Hargrave, AIA, Director of Integrated Design, Science and Technology, shares his expertise.

With a traditional planning project we work with end users to design customized or bespoke labs that are often highly specialized.  With Spec Suites, the design process creates an opportunity with Life Sciences property developers to understand their goals and parameters for the project. We then relying upon our vast experience in the Boston marketplace to identify best design solutions for the geographic location and the target market.

When working with developers to create these “move-in ready” spec suites, we also consult our comprehensive database of programming and planning metrics to provide the most appropriate spaces and lab services for the widest possible range of potential tenants. This approach results in a nearly turn-key lab space that is ready for tenants who are making the jump from incubator space or spinning off new strategic research initiatives. Having a near turn-key lab allows tenants to continue to research activities or in the case of start-ups begin them immediately without interruptions to their operations or timelines.

Spec Suites offer their own challenges in design, mainly because they have smaller footprints to reduce rents and thus have less square footage. Flexibility and efficiency are key, and we recommend utilizing a 10’ to 11’ planning module for all lab spaces, and the use of moveable laboratory benching.

Here are several key considerations:

  • When fitting out the suites, we recommend furnishing the major pieces of laboratory equipment for the most commonly used spaces but deferring others to tenants. For example, install one or more fume hoods in the open lab, and two to four biosafety cabinets in the tissue culture (TC) room along with adequate floor space for stacking incubators. Plan another lab support room with similar dimensions to serve as a second TC room should a tenant desire it, but don’t furnish the BSC’s. Further, consider sizing another lab support room to serve as a glasswash/autoclave room, along with the necessary MEP infrastructure, but leave the purchase of the specialized equipment to the tenant.
  • Materials management spaces (consumables, freezer farms, chemistry and bio waste) should be located near a secondary entrance directly into the laboratory suite, preferably with direct access to a freight elevator.
  • The basic complement of distributed laboratory utilities—normal and emergency power, data, vacuum and compressed air—should be centrally distributed to all lab spaces using an overhead service panel system to eliminate fixed wall mounted devices that limit flexibility.
  • Laboratory HVAC systems should be designed with 100% outside air (non-recirculating) to ensure compatibility with the safety protocols for life sciences research. The exhaust system should have capacity for additional point of use exhausts (snorkels, benchtop workstations) in the lab areas, beyond the provided fume hoods.

Being experts in lab design and having proven experience designing every lab element allows TRIA to work seamlessly with developers to design highly functional and attractive spec suites, increasing available lab space in the market and allowing tenants to move in quicker, without interruptions to their ongoing research and development.

“In today’s heated market for lab space, speed to occupancy is critically important to drug researchers, who are often in a race to advance their research and can’t afford the disruptions of a drawn out space search or a lengthy construction project,” said Dan McGrath, Senior Vice President and Director of Asset Management for Berkeley. “Constructing spec suites provides tenants with move-in-ready space, but developers need to make sure the space they are delivering meets the needs of today’s lab tenants. At 200 Exchange Street, we counted on the expertise of lab planners and designers at TRIA to ensure our spec suites were flexible, functional, and met the needs of the lab users in the market.”