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Bigelow Laboratory Recognised for Excellence in Design at International Lab Awards

A high-tech North American laboratory specialising in oceanic research and designed by global architecture firm Perkins+Will has won one of the lab design industry’s most prestigious awards. The Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in East Boothbay, Maine this month earned the S-Lab “New Research and Analytical Laboratory Building Award,” which recognises excellence in laboratory design, innovation, operation, and management. S-Lab is a UK-based nonprofit that supports improvements in lab efficiency and effectiveness worldwide.

“Winning this award is a great achievement for Bigelow,” says Gary Shaw, laboratory planning and programming expert with Perkins+Will, who accepted the honor at the S-Lab Conference on September 16 at the University of Leeds. “We worked closely with the team to create uniquely effective buildings and spaces that would inspire the scientists, enhance collaboration, and help accelerate all aspects of the discovery process.”

S-Lab Director Peter James said; "The Bigelow demonstrates how the best lab designs enhance science though improved collaboration and infrastructure, make more efficient use of resources, and improve environmental impact. The judges were especially impressed with the core Single Cell Genomics Centre that can sequence DNA from uncultured micro-organisms - the first of its kind in the world - and the many environmental features which contributed to its LEED Platinum rating."

Overlooking the Damariscotta estuary, Bigelow embodies interagency collaboration. The laboratory has three wings that are funded by different agencies and house relevant scientists and laboratories, with each connected to a shared ‘Commons’. Each of the three ‘laboratory wings’ houses scientists and laboratories that are specific to one or more areas of research. Both the laboratories and utility infrastructure are flexible and include provisions for accessibility. The arrangement of the offices, the meeting spaces, and the special ‘collaboration porches’ overlooking the ocean are designed to promote interaction and enhance interdisciplinary collaborations.

In planning the new Ocean Science and Education Campus, Perkins+Will worked closely with the laboratory to develop the program and conceptual design and costing materials - assembling these into Grant Applications to the State of Maine, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology – successfully yielding $19.1M in Funding.

The S-Lab Awards are supported by many leading professional and higher education bodies, topics included; best practice design of new and refurbished lab facilities, the importance of technical support, application of lean production principles to lab practice, better chemical and sample management, sharing of equipment, environmental improvement actions, more effective use of freezers, and the growing impact of IT within both research and teaching.

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