Innovation is about much more than the “big idea.” True scientific and technological breakthroughs grow out of intense collaboration among professionals from often-diverse fields. To foster a culture of innovation, science and technology facilities must reflect an organization’s mission, honor its culture, and meet its technological requirements, including spaces that can grow alongside technological advances. Ultimately, the successful design of these buildings comes from creating superior research environments that support collaboration and innovation.
Each company’s requirements in those areas are different. A thorough and careful look at a client’s internal culture and industry—in order to develop a deeper understanding of needs, current methods, and future possibilities—should precede any design effort. Understanding specific workplace strategies and being open to discovery in the early phases of a project helps designers and planners remain flexible and nimble in responding to a client as a singular company, and not a broad, generic industry.
A variety of evidence demonstrates that branding, workplace dynamics, organizational structure, and active social environments all drive innovation. Organizations and designers can create optimal conditions in which innovation is more likely to flourish, by keeping those factors in mind.
Science and technology environments are unique in that they must encourage the development of new knowledge that can be applied broadly; technological advancements are an integral part of these industries, and of the spaces they occupy. Advanced technology is changing the design of science and technology facilities and operations, requiring careful coordination with the building infrastructure as well as the research culture.
Because technology changes far more rapidly than buildings, facility support systems that can seamlessly be adapted to emerging technologies are critical. Both the science and technology industries feature significant research components, necessitating the careful design of spaces that suit the specific needs of research spaces while remaining flexible enough to evolve with technological change.
With highly specialized functions, equipment-intensive workspaces, complex building infrastructure, expansive research communities, and increasingly constrained economic resources, the design of science and technology buildings requires specific, expert knowledge. Our process employs a number of techniques to increase long-term efficiency and flexibility and to contain costs, including modular planning, balancing open and specialized labs, shared support spaces, and clustering lower-intensity spaces such as offices.
Our work with science and technology clients includes both designing the spaces that help them achieve their goals, and also developing strategies that help promote a culture of success in the workplace. We look to the future in science and technology—as well as in other areas of society that will affect how companies develop and change—and then apply the knowledge gained in our recommendations.