Planning A Flexible, Sustainable, Cost Effective Laboratory To Attract New Researchers

Joseph Gibbons, Wilson Architects Inc.
Tyler Dykes, Affiliated Engineers, Inc (AEI)

Florida State University's new Interdisciplinary Research and Commercialization Building (IRCB) is a new research facility that will not be home to any specific department, institute, or college. It is intended to house faculty in the physical sciences under FSU's STEM hiring initiative as well as grant-funded collaborative research groups seeking use of the core facilities housed in the building. Physical science encompasses research in disciplines such as chemistry, physics, biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, and other areas. It has both a theoretical component as well as an applied side, and explores materials and their characteristics from the nanoscale up to much larger devices. The work at the nanoscale necessitates the use of clean room facilities, designed to house special tools and equipment that facilitate this research. In addition to the research labs and support space associated with those labs, there will be office space for the researchers, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate students as well as space for undergraduates working in these labs. There will also be offices for the technical support staff and the administrative staff needed in this building. Conference rooms of various sizes will be provided throughout the building as well as collaboration spaces. The gross building square footage is expected to be 114,000 square feet. This will include 54 lab modules, consisting of computational, dry, damp, and wet labs housed on the upper floors of the building. The shared common core facilities will include a 5,242 square-foot clean room and a 5,280 square-foot imaging/characterization suite on the first floor of the building.

Originally envisioned as ‘The Idea Factory,' the building was planned collaboratively from its earliest stages under the leadership of the FSU Research Foundation with a holistic approach to programming, adaptability and sustainability. Through iterative workshops with various research groups, the design team interactively compiled goals, benchmarks, and strategies using tools such as the ‘Q-list.' This case study will step through early stage planning efforts and describe how these efan adaptable, sustainable laboratory facility.

Learning Objectives

  • Establish goals and success criteria with early buy-in from user groups.
  • Course-correct the design in real time, in terms of sustainability, cost, flexibility, and serviceability.
  • Translate conceptual planning into detailed design.
  • Step through early stage planning efforts and describe how these efforts translate into detailed design features for a flexible, sustainable, cutting edge project


Joe is an architect and an Associate at Wilson Architects focusing on programming, planning, design and construction of university research and teaching facilities, as well as labs for R&D clients. His experience includes biology, chemistry, imaging and characterization, condensed matter physics and biomedical and manufacturing cleanrooms. With the firm's participation in the AIA 2030 Commitment, Joseph has a particular focus on providing sustainable design solutions for these technical spaces.

As a Project Engineer in AEI's Science & Technology Group, Tyler is involved from early stage conceptual planning through design, construction, startup, and post occupancy. His projects have earned LEED and Green Globes certifications, including two new LEED Platinum facilities. Tyler has designed and modeled mechanical systems for animal vivaria, imaging suites, tissue storage banks, biological containment facilities, and cleanrooms.


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