Research-based Workspace – Design Shifts in Academic and Corporate Labs


December 6, 2023

Subject Matter Expert

Edwin Hargrave, AIA, Associate Principal
Edwin’s open-mindedness, persistence and commitment to innovation, and curiosity in research-based facility planning and programming, earned him numerous awards for his work at the Woods Hole Institution, including Lab of the Year High Honors Award from R&D Magazine, the AIA New England Merit Award for Design Excellence, and the BSA/SCUP Award for Design Excellence for Higher Education Facilities.

For over 25 years, a large portion of Associate Principal Edwin Hargrave’s design projects have been comprised of science-focused research facilities for academic institutions. For the last 5 years at TRIA, he has been planning and programming for some of the world’s largest biopharmaceutical corporations. We were curious about how different, or similar, these two different markets are when it comes to planning and programming.

We sat down for a Q&A with Edwin, who has designed over 1 million square feet of research space.  As the son of a marine chemist, you could say he was born into the culture of scientific research.  From an early age, Edwin witnessed his dad’s laborious field work, long hours in the lab, and the passion for discovery and implementation of successful outcomes to improve lives in the community.

Through interactions with his father at the workplace, Edwin also witnessed the key design components for a productive research environment: flexible labs, a nearby comfortable area to compare notes with colleagues over a cup of coffee, and relief from long sample runs by way of a sturdy ping pong table. He says, “That recipe continues to be every bit as relevant when planning for scientific research today.”

How has the physical arrangement of research labs evolved?

Edwin:  In the past, early academic science buildings featured lifeless double-loaded corridors flanked by cloistered research labs tailor-made for a single Principal Investigator’s (PI) focus–fiefdoms as they were often described. These have been replaced by the shared open lab arrangement which commercial life sciences facilities have long understood to be more productive by offering adaptability in bench and equipment layouts.

In the academic setting, the shared open lab translates to supporting a wider range of PI investigations within a single communal environment, housing a larger array of scientific equipment, supporting more complex workflows, and serving multiple research programs that are likely interrelated.  The sum of these factors is that students are better prepared to enter the workforce comfortably and productively upon graduation.

They’ve been introduced to the concept of working in teams, they have a facility with a wider range of equipment and workflows, and they have the basis for understanding that most commercial research activities they’ll be involved in are cogs in a bigger research wheel.

How has the approach to collaboration and interaction evolved?

Edwin:  Earlier academic science facilities suffered from a lack of interaction and collaboration spaces, often with offices and meeting areas a far distance from the active laboratories, if not in a separate building altogether.  Grad student write-up areas were often built into the labs, which has a host of safety implications as well as making them less accessible to students seeking mentoring. These physical conditions overall could lead to a siloed learning environment, compromising the exchange of skills and ideas that could have led to increased learning, confidence building, and strengthening the institution’s program and recruiting capabilities.

Commercial research activities demand constant interaction and collaboration between research staff to meet schedules and objectives and require labs and workplace areas to essentially function as a single research community.  In response to this need, lab workers’ personal stations are usually located immediately adjacent to the lab spaces, outside of the classified lab space, but connected with glass walls providing views into the lab spaces.  Informal collaboration and meeting areas are interspersed among the workstations, with food and beverage stations nearby.  Exchanges occur frequently and with less formality, hastening the pace of the research.

This same arrangement has been adopted in the academic research setting:  Departmental Centers, PI Offices, and grad student write-up areas are located adjacent to the research labs but in unclassified lab space.  This promotes interaction and exchange, in this case, to support learning, once again better preparing students for the fast-paced and intensive dynamics of the workplace. 

Is designing for academic researchers and commercial organizations the same?

Edwin:  Today, the fundamental space models that promote learning and research breakthroughs are very similar.  The key planning components are flexible open laboratory environments, team-based problem-solving research initiatives, and strategically located office, collaboration, and interaction spaces.  Utilizing planning and design solutions that apply this understanding is accelerating breakthroughs in medicines and therapies, in no small part due to better-prepared entry-level workers

Workplace Design Captures the Soul of Ring Therapeutics


November 9, 2023

Ring's Lobby

Influenced by the CEO’s love of Asian garden designs and their meditative feeling of serenity, along with inspired feng shui concepts to circulate positive energy throughout the space, the lobby allows visitors to pause on the bench and reflect on Ring’s research. At the same time with the futuristic installation of interactive virtual art, the space intends to challenge guests and staff to think about the limitless possibilities of medicine while a cast of light shines upon them.

Groundbreaking science deserves a revolutionary workspace. From the front door to the back of the lab and the coffee breaks in between, Ring Therapeutics’ new headquarters in Cambridge, MA needed to function on all cylinders to support the staff’s creativity, energetic commitment, and forward-thinking science. It was a horseshoe curve in the repositioned building—and the company’s agenda of disruption in the gene therapy space—that inspired us to bend the rules in office standards.

I’ve appreciated the collaborative partnership with TRIA as we set out to create a space combining modern design with traditional Zen philosophy. It’s been tremendously rewarding to bring this to life and we hope this space will continue to inspire and energize us in our important mission.

– Ring Therapeutics CEO Tuyen Ong, MD, MBA

Ong’s appreciation for nature and Japanese architecture found its way into the overall design of this new 65,000 GSF office and lab. His vision stems from his love of Bonsai, whose origin can be traced back to Zen Buddhism when Chinese monks developed the dwarfed trees in monasteries as a spiritual practice to capture the beauty of nature and its essence of harmony and balance. In the process of trying to sculpt a living, breathing, and changing organism, the cultivator submits to the idea that his work will never be finished or complete.

Click here to see all the fun elements that were incorporated into the design as well as a video walkthrough and in-depth story on how the TRIA design team captured this vision at Ring.

ISPE Facility of the Year Award Winners

Since TRIA’s foundation eight years ago, we have had the privilege of partnering with some of the biggest names in the pharmaceutical industry, designing innovative state-of-the-art facilities. Our research-based process  ensures that we provide the right design solution that can help any company’s mission thrive. The International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE) has granted three Facility of the Year awards to TRIA designed facilities. Below we have highlighted these projects:

Moderna Therapeutics

Moderna Therapeutics

This facility was awarded the ISPE 2019 Facility of the Future Category Award

TRIA and DPS worked as partners on this LEED Gold project. DPS provided full architectural and engineering design for the Norwood facility as well as construction management oversight, commissioning, qualification and validation and procurement services. TRIA designed clinical labs, offices, employee facilities, and a conference center. The facility provides the capacity to develop materials for pre-clinical toxicology studies, as well as Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical development programs. It also has the capability to support new medicines enabled by Moderna’s mRNA platform.


Elevate Bio

This facility was awarded the ISPE 2021 Operational Excellence Category Award

TRIA provided architecture and design services for the interior fit-out of a raw warehouse space into a state-of-the art cGMP development and manufacturing facility for novel therapeutic technologies. Designed to feel like a “basecamp” – a physical foundation point for the incremental climb in the company’s growth, the client’s new facility features a collaborative open plan office and amenities that promote interaction and provide flexible production suites for GMP manufacturing, laboratories, and a range of supporting utility and warehouse areas. The facility was constructed to produce viral vector, cell therapy, gene therapy, and regenerative medicine for clinical purposes.


CRISPR Therapeutics

CRISPR Therapeutics

This facility was awarded the ISPE 2022 Innovation Category Award 

TRIA worked closely with the CRISPR to set the objectives of designing with flexibility and scale in mind. Our team approached the project with our proven process of visioning, programming/planning, design and execution.

Using group visioning sessions, executive workshops and focus groups, TRIA identified the client spatial and aesthetic needs and gained an understanding of the company culture. Like every lab we design, we used tools developed by TRIA to define the quantitative requirements for the project, which were developed and documented during the programming/planning process.

Efficient and unique, the open plan office and amenity spaces are designed to promote interaction and collaboration. The design embraced the abundant natural light and embraced the exposed steel structure of the building. Glass walls were incorporated throughout to provide transparency, natural light and a connection between the office and manufacturing space.

On September 20th ISPE will be hosting their annual product show, a one-day premiere biopharmaceutical show with some of the leading names in the industry. TRIA will be at booth W66, stop by to learn more about our ISPE Award Winning Designs.

Neuroscience Firm Utilizes Creative Design to Inspire Employees


July 7, 2023

Vision Wall

The Vision Wall, adjacent to the boardroom, is a custom-designed installation aimed at inspiring employees and remember their purpose: to help patients who are suffering from neurodegenerative diseases.

Science and art are often seen as distinct disciplines, but for life science firms focused on discovery, the two can coexist, especially when the artwork can be appreciated for its emotional power.

Triggering an emotional response was exactly what Vigil Neuro was looking for when TRIA began the fit-out at its new research-based headquarters in Watertown. A biotech firm developing therapeutics for patients who suffer from rare and neurodegenerative diseases, the space aimed to daily remind its employees of their purpose.

How does creative design accomplish this? For Vigil, TRIA developed a warm, inviting and modern color palette to celebrate the people. Imagining the floor plan as a Nervous System for their microglia-focused science, neighborhoods were created to represent The Brain (lab), Neurons (open collaboration desks), the Spinal Chord (café), neurotransmitters and synapse (hallways that allow for serendipitous connections to other teams), and finally the Backbone (boardroom). Adjacent from the backbone, the foundation that supports the teams, a long corridor wall became the spotlight for the most inspiring design element in the 15,000-square-foot space: The Vision Wall.

Recognizing the power of art and its ability to inspire, Vigil and TRIA partnered to create an interactive 3D textile board in this corridor that aims to trigger an emotional response from employees, patients, caregivers and their families.

The installation is titled “Vision: A Brighter Tomorrow for People with Devastating Neurodegenerative Diseases.” It’s grand in scale, measuring approximately 28 feet wide by 8 feet high. Eleven wooden pegs are imprinted with strategically chosen “value” words–Trust, Vision, Inclusion, Compassion, Hope, Community, Transparency, Communication, Innovation, Urgency and Caregiver—and all surround a bigger center peg with the word Patients. By including all parties with whom their research affects ensures they are “doing it right” and “doing it together”, two Vigil staff mantras.

Users identify their individual values by wrapping a color-coded piece of yarn around the corresponding peg, allowing participants to reflect on what is important to them. As more users interact, the yarn pieces start to intersect and intertwine creating a web of truth and respect for the entire community, which symbolizes how “harnessing the power of microglia” can improve the lives of patients, caregivers and families.

Vigil Neuro incorporated other art installations throughout its space to inspire discovery and connection to its mission. For biotech firm Vigil Neuro, art inspires creativity, imagination, understanding, and expression; it stimulates dialogue and community, leading to innovation.

About TRIA
TRIA is a full-service architecture firm that values client relationships above all. The firm’s principal-driven approach puts our leadership team at the table with client decision-makers, working together to envision success, solve problems and deliver exceptional results. Our lab design and corporate interiors teams strive to learn every client’s unique DNA, and by doing so, we create efficient and energizing spaces that reflect a company’s culture and foster innovation. At TRIA, we design spaces that enable business success and advance discoveries – in the lab, around the office, and beyond.

Lab Design With Scientists in Mind


May 15, 2023

“Because I can understand what the end users are explaining about the day-to-day activities, I know where the pain points are, what works for them, and what they are looking for without repetitively asking. I can pick up functional deficiencies in a current lab that could pose challenges.” Said Senior Lab Planner, Chris Graul

TRIA, a principal-led architecture firm with a focus on designing unique spaces for science, technology and corporate clients, recently completed the design of Abata Therapeutics’ new 24,000-square-foot lab and office located in a new building in Watertown, MA.

The finished space gives Abata’s scientists a functional, flexible place that supports productive work, collaboration and focus. Reflective of its name, which means “tranquil” in one language and “it’s a quiet place” in another, Abata’s lab is graced with floor-to-ceiling windows, so scientists, who are discovering new therapies, can peer out to a tranquil park, with trees and the Charles River.

For this company’s lab manager, the process of getting there, designed during the tumultuous pandemic, was surprisingly smooth and peaceful. Choosing a firm that has dedicated scientists on staff proved to be a good strategy. A lab planner’s primary goal is to ensure efficient workflows that serve the end user. Acting as a communicative, collaborative partner who can provide trusted expertise, and understand and share the values, TRIA’s lab planner was able to nurture the company’s culture of innovation.

Creating a new lab in a new space while also overseeing day-to-day business operations, Abata’s lab manager wanted a firm that could provide a high level of confidence. TRIA’s Senior Lab Planner Chris Graul, a former scientist with 20-plus years in the lab, has a unique perspective developed from years of sitting behind the bench and knows that examining the form and function of their new space would lead to improved execution.

Looking through the lens of a scientist, Chris’s first task is to understand the unique workflow, which is key to the functionality and efficiency of the lab. He often asks, what angles are conducive for moving experimental components throughout the day? Does the path of travel make sense? He makes considerations that are often overlooked, for example, storage, logistics, and where to place biological waste barrels.

Scientists’ experience with space organization and practical features cannot be overlooked. Chris explains it as “living in a lab, you have to constantly adapt to changing personnel, specific work that you are doing, and equipment that might be new or changing – often making the most out of the space that you have.” This is why TRIA provides spaces that can be adaptable. There’s a good idea of how the space would be used, but no one can predict the nuances of how individuals and teams work and interact if the science is changing. Knowing what’s available and having good partnerships with vendors also allow design elements to be scalable to accommodate growth.

After serving as an Associate Director of Lab Operations for over a decade, Chris recognizes that group parity is also important. When Abata’s facility manager realized the list of wants and needs exceeded space and budgets, Chris was able to help make concessions without changing the functionality and efficiency of the lab.

TRIA is confident that Abata’s new space will help them to achieve their long-term goals.

About TRIA
TRIA is a full-service architecture firm that values client relationships above all. The firm’s principal-driven approach puts our leadership team at the table with client decision-makers, working together to envision success, solve problems and deliver exceptional results. Our lab design and corporate interiors teams strive to learn every client’s unique DNA, and by doing so, we create efficient and energizing spaces that reflect a company’s culture and foster innovation. At TRIA, we design spaces that enable business success and advance discoveries – in the lab, around the office, and beyond.

TRIA Has Signed on to the AIA 2030 Commitment


April 25, 2023

Crispr Lab

Innovative, purposeful & sustainable designs.

TRIA, a principal-led architecture firm with a focus on designing unique spaces for science, technology, and corporate clients, is proud to announce it has formally signed on to the AIA 2030 Commitment to design carbon-neutral buildings by the year 2030. In addition, the firm has established 2-year goals to reduce the baseline carbon emissions on all its projects by 90%.

While TRIA has been incorporating sustainability elements and LEED-certified design for its clients’ projects since its foundation in 2015, the official pledge to align its framework with the AIA Standard for Design Excellence will provide clients with a new baseline when it comes to delivering TRIA’s scope of services. TRIA is designing all its clients’ workplaces at a minimum of LEED Gold certifiable, not only for the office but also for the lab and manufacturing facilities. Because lab facilities present a unique set of challenges, requiring five to ten times more energy per square foot to run than a corporate office, TRIA’s lab programming and planning expertise will be high-performance and low impact. Strong relationships with the industry’s most sustainable vendors and engineering partners give clients a comprehensive approach to sustainability and wellness.

As an industry leader in lab programming and planning and through the design of  over 12 million square feet of  lab and office space, TRIA has amassed robust database of information and is working with the AIA to update their laboratory energy usage metrics. We are helping the worldwide scientific community establish accurate baselines by consistently contributing data to the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL).

TRIA is dedicated to the AIA 2030 Commitment, from our design studio to your workspace, we are devoted to making the world a better place by promoting sustainability, health, and equity in the built environment–for the planet we share, the people we serve, and the purpose that unites us.

About TRIA
TRIA is a full-service architecture firm that values client relationships above all. The firm’s principal-driven approach puts our leadership team at the table with client decision-makers, working together to envision success, solve problems and deliver exceptional results. Its lab design and corporate interiors teams strive to learn every client’s unique DNA, and by doing so, they create efficient and energizing spaces that reflect a company’s culture and foster innovation. The result enables business success and advances new discoveriesin the lab, around the office, and beyond.

TRIA Helping Unite Lab Operations & Facilities Management Specialists at the Lab Facilities Summit


February 6, 2023

Jon Romig, Senior Associate & Senior Lab Planner

TRIA is proud to be partnering with the Lab Facilities Summit on March 23, 2023 in Boston.

Ever changing regulations, aggressive sustainability goals, limited space and budget, complex stakeholder groups, facilities management and digital transformation are just some of the challenges faced by the Life Sciences industry in today’s environment.

These factors are forcing laboratory owners, users, and managers to focus on long term vision and change the way they design, plan, build, and retrofit buildings to ensure lab facilities are future-proof and occupant centric.

However, in such a complex environment, with multiple internal and external stakeholders, all with competing priorities, balancing vision, resources, infrastructure, and technology is critical.

To help these life science and biopharma organizations overcome their challenges, TRIA will be exhibiting their innovative solutions and providing insights to attendees and expert speakers to aid them in creating lab facilities of the future.

Jonathon Romig, Senior Associate, Senior Lab Planner, will be featured as a key expert speaker during his roundtable on ‘Utilizing Technology for Right Sizing, Planning, and Maintaining Operations in Lab Facilities’ alongside heads of lab operations and facilities management at the event.

TRIA’s booth will also provide a valuable opportunity for attendees to see how the organization’s architecture and design solutions can solve their challenges.

Other speakers from leading operators sharing their insights include:

  • Kimberly Dougherty, Sr Director, Facilities & Operations, Atalanta Therapeutics
  • Partha Krishnan, Deputy Director, Health Safety and Environment (HSE), Sanofi
  • Demet Aybar, Director of Facilities, Lab Ops and EHS, Strand Therapeutics
  • Jake Haworth, Associate Director of Operations, Moderna
  • Krisha Panchalingam, Senior Manager Lab Operations, Abata Therapeutics
  • Anthony Navarro, Head of Facilities & Lab Operations, Evelo Biosciences
  • Divya Krishnamurthy, Director, R&D Ops and Risk Management, Lyndra Therapeutics

Join TRIA at the Lab Facilities Summit to hear best practice strategies to plan, design, and manage future-proofed, occupant-centric, agile and sustainable lab facilities.

Find out more and register using our 15% discount code PARTNER15  click here.

TRIA Designs Abata Therapeutics’ Watertown Headquarters

TRIA, a principal-led architecture firm with a focus on designing unique spaces for science, technology and corporate clients, has been working with Abata Therapeutics on the design of its new workplace located at The Arsenal in Watertown. Having outgrown its space in Cambridge, Abata has moved operations to Watertown where they could plan for future growth.

“Abata’s move gave TRIA an opportunity to design a space that capitalized on everything Watertown has to offer. The second floor office and lab provide views of treetops, water, and parks. Abata means quiet place of peace, and so here we created just that.” said Aline Trindade, Director of Interiors, TRIA, Inc.

The Watertown location at Arsenal Park provides Abata with summer views of the treetops and winter views of the Charles River. The TRIA team utilized design details with an understated brand culture. The new tranquil office features an open concept filled with natural light, preserved moss, and organic shapes to mimic the lines in the Abata logo. The interior lab glass walls feature glazing to provide semi privacy, while the exterior lab windows share views of Arsenal Park.

Abata is focused on translating the biology of regulatory T cells (Tregs) into transformational medicines for patients with progressive multiple sclerosis and other serious autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Together, they are bringing an entirely new approach to the treatment of autoimmune disease by engineering Tregs as targeted therapies that stop immune-mediated destruction, restore homeostasis – a state of harmony – and promote repair in the affected tissues.

Vertex Wins Engineering News-Record Award


December 12, 2022

Vertex lobby

With soaring ceilings in the lobby, oversized asymmetrical chandeliers greet guests letting them know discovery doesn’t follow a straight line.

TRIA, a partner-led architecture firm with a focus on science and technology clients congratulates Vertex Pharmaceuticals on winning Engineering News Record’s Award of Merit for the tenant fit-out at  Innovation Square, now Leiden Center 1. Designed with Vertex’s mission in mind, the space provides open, collaborative office and labs which foster creativity and efficiency in the development of transformative medicines for serious illnesses.

After a complete programming and planning effort to define Vertex’s requirement and workplace strategies, TRIA provided architectural services for Vertex’s Leiden Center 1. The process, completed throughout the pandemic, was led by our lab-focused architectural team, who successfully implemented custom enhancements to the original core and shell design to make the space unique to Vertex.

Achieving LEED Platinum certification, this new state-of-the-art facility, a “Workplace of the Future”, features labs and manufacturing operations . For the remaining 40% of the office space, Vertex utilizes neighborhood-based office space with quick huddle areas, large and small conference rooms, a cafe with room for informal company meetings, a rooftop, a fitness room, an IT bar and coffee bar.