5 things life science companies should prioritize in lab space

Evan-Gallagher-1Evan Gallagher, Executive Vice President, NAI Hunneman

In the Greater Boston lab market, companies that are looking for a new home or expanding rapidly are finding an extremely tight market. These companies prioritize the lab and the amenities they need for their work, which can mean looking at locations they may not have considered previously. This prioritization of the lab space itself illustrates how important specific features are to these companies.  From the flow of space to a building’s existing infrastructure, here are the factors that tenants should consider within the four walls of lab space today:

  1. Flow: The ability for separate stages to flow naturally from each step and enhance efficiency is important to the way life science companies operate and conduct experiments. Tenants look at the shape of the building as well as column spacing – columns that are spaced too closely together result in small, tight spaces that do not allow for much freedom for a lab build-out. Companies must consider a host of buildings in order to finding a space where they can achieve the flow objectives they are looking for.
  2. Floor plates: Buildings with a large floor plate are desirable for lab tenants who need between 50,000-80,000 square feet of space. This breaks down to a floor plate in the 35,000-40,000-square-foot range, in which tenants will be able to set up equipment effectively and without squeezing too much into a tight space.
  3. Natural light: Offices with natural light have been shown to facilitate a positive work environment, which can make for a more enjoyable workplace. This lab feature is crucial to creating a vibrant work environment that makes the workplace enjoyable, and is especially important for companies looking to attract the best talent in the world.
  4. Infrastructure: In today’s market, there are two types of buildings where we find lab space. One has centralized infrastructure, which is designed from the ground up and allows a facility to be really -efficient – these buildings are also in higher demand, and are therefore more expensive. Another option is a facility that over time has been modified and converted into lab spaces, which generally has no centrally designed systems. Here, tenants need to carefully consider the space. Both options have pros and cons, and this consideration is part of the overall decision-making process. Tenants tend to lean toward centrally designed buildings, but this means they are faced with fewer options and premium pricing.
  5. Equipment: When jumping into a search for the right space, working with a tenant to compile a list of equipment the company helps us refine a list of buildings to consider. This is a crucial element because in a sense, the equipment list is the DNA behind the deal. What tenants are bringing to the space will determine what needs for power, HVAC, backup energy and other capabilities exist. Plus if a company is using hazardous materials they will need to know the requirements and restrictions of the building.

In the life science industry we can help make sure our clients understand all of the considerations that go into finding the right lab space for them – especially for those companies that are relatively young or those that are experiencing accelerated growth. Talking through a building’s flow, how natural light can energize a space and a company’s future needs is part of how we serve our clients and find the space that is right for them.

A version of this blog post originally appeared in the April 15 issue of NEREJ.

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