Shared and Flexible Research Labs

Building Space-Efficient Labs That Minimize Future Reconfiguration


This report examines how facilities leaders can combat the high costs of specialized labs with the implementation of space-efficient lab buildings. We explore how shared lab buildings increase efficiency, encourage collaboration, and offer greater flexibility.

This brief is one in a six-volume series on Campus 2025. To learn more, explore the other briefs on makerspaces, industry interface spaces, luxury and community-centric residence halls, corporate-inspired offices, and active learning spaces.

Key observations from our research

1. Labs are the most commonly reconfigured space on campus, as they often require modifications for every recruited researcher.

2. Shared labs offer more space efficiency, averaging only 300 square feet per PI for one institution.

3. Fewer walls mean less reconfiguration to accommodate a new PI's requirements.

4. Shared space more readily accommodates multidisciplinary research.

5. Foundational infrastructure minimizes future customization and construction costs.

6. Establish space governance protocols to incentivize PIs to utilize space more efficiently.

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