What's in Your Campus? LAB2050: The Future and Science of Laboratory Campuses

George Karidis, SmithGroupJJR
Nick Salowich, SmithGroupJJR

"In 2050, science and technology will thrive on low-entropy / low-water campuses comprised of buildings with site-specific biomimetic skins, containing delightful and sustainable laboratory spaces that host and promote diverse and resilient communities of scientists, virtual artificial assistants and low-power research equipment."

So says a team of university, corporate and federal lab experts tasked through 2015 to predict where science and new technologies will take the next generation of lab campuses.

In a collaboration called, "Laboratory of the Half Century," these advisors dialogued the trends, technologies, and economics that will shape the design concepts of research environments.

Additional projections of 2050 are that:

Low-Entropy campuses will frugally reuse high- and low-grade waste heat, as from data centers, and minimize temperature approaches, as with chilled beams, to eliminate energy silos and maximize campus effectiveness.

Highly-efficient central heat pumps will maintain campus "thermal currencies" engaging renewable energy sources and the earth's mass, thus becoming increasingly combustion-free.

Low-Water campuses will harvest rainwater and process gray water streams for reuse on site, while minimizing atmospheric dissipation via cooling towers.

Renewable energy sources will leverage advanced thermal- and power-storage technologies to maximize photovoltaic and wind input--and (it is hoped) practical/safe nuclear fusion.

Site-Specific research locations will be selected, developed and enhanced to address solar, climate, and urban context using building materials that mimic nature in response to load conditions.

Delightful environments will offer the comfort, productivity and inspiration--both aesthetic and scientific--that the top talent in the world will gladly choose and productively engage.

Resilient communities will prepare for grid disruption, and accommodate new technologies through flexible utility pathways, room heights, and access/assignment.

Low-power research equipment--increasingly water-cooled, robotic, and nano- or micro-scaled will be a powerful driver in Low-Entropy campuses.

Stacked fume hoods run by robots will cut ventilation needs at the source, providing more research per SF of research space with less energy and greater safety.

Science missions will build less, spend less, emit less--and do more.

The lab environment will change. Come get up to speed and help further the conversation!

Learning Objectives

  • Understand key trends that will change laboratory design, energy delivery/use, and campus integration by the middle of this century.
  • Understand the strategies that will allow Low-Entropy Campuses to share energy inputs and outputs, leverage thermal storage and renewables, and maximize the performance not only of HVAC systems but of staff and scientific missions.
  • Understand how materials technology and parametric design will transform building skins to mimic nature and respond to external conditions and occupant needs.
  • Understand potential changes in laboratory hood and other research equipment as artificial intelligence, robotics, and nano- and micro-scale research evolve.


Serving high technology clients with innovative solutions for three decades, George's recent projects include: Michigan State University Grand Rapids Research Center; Oakland University Engineering Center; University of Michigan Lurie Nanofabrication Facility; and concepts for NREL Energy Systems Integration Facility.

His past I2SL technical sessions include "Doing More with Less", "Energy Arbitrage" and "Exhale-It's all About Ventilation."

Nick has nearly 30 years of experience in project management and architecture.

In his role as Studio Leader, he oversees the project delivery and development efforts of the growing Science & Technology field throughout the Midwest region, while continuing to engage with local clients such as the University of Michigan, Wayne State University and Michigan State University.


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