Deconstructing deal breakers in office-to-lab transfers – Trade Monitor

Creativity and scientific research are usually at odds; One is all right brain, and the other stays left. However, when it comes to advancing the life sciences, both are found in the brain. In order for the laboratory to analyze data, conduct experiments and evaluate results, developers must think outside the box and consider many features that go beyond the standards of office buildings.

Tenants’ needs are different from just classic needs [office] – a journalist or a PR firm – because it’s too heavy in need of electricity, and in venting and in an expansive space” Leslie HeavenManaging Partner in a development company Characteristics of Hemel + Meiringof.

In 2005, Heaven + Meringoff bought 525 West 57th StreetWhich Currently homes Life sciences tenants like labcorp, A company specializing in diagnostic testing and drug development. For the past 17 years, Hemel + Meringoff succeeded in advancing the life sciences, although back when Hemel first started, it was The industry has not yet established this address. Now, as more money and attention fuels the industry, life sciences have gained popularity. With this momentum comes the demand and need for buildings to provide.

To meet the growth of life sciences tenants, developers have widely adopted a strategy readjustment. Depending on the building, some aspects of the offices can easily fit into laboratories, while others can be modified to suit the needs of the tenant.

“What has made rehabilitation so attractive is the kind of speed-to-market proposition that those buildings can be converted more quickly than allowing and going through the construction process of a new building,” he said. John SullivanAnd the President of the Architectural Engineering Company SGA.

SGA deals more with new construction than with building repositioning, although tenant demand has led to an increase in adaptive reuse. But The process of transforming buildings into science spaces is not without it Challenges. Some structural features remain You must have it for life sciences, so developers, design teams and the like must come up with creative solutions to turn standard buildings into laboratories capable of conducting cutting-edge research.

“The first thing people talk about is floor height,” he said. Matt Havertyhead of construction department at Oxford Properties. “This is primarily due to the fact that there are clean air requirements for laboratories that require you to turn the air and get fresh air – not recycled [air]Which is used by 95 percent of office buildings.”

Because labs require new air, Haverty said, they need more and more ductwork. These take up more ceiling space, so floor-to-ceiling heights and the amount of space between floors are key indicators of whether a building has the potential to become a laboratory at all.

“There’s usually volume between the ceiling and then the next floor above, and that’s where you need to solve for all the ductwork, all the structures, all the space infrastructure needs,” Sullivan said.

As for the details of these heights, the higher the better, Hemel said, setting 10 feet as a rough baseline for ceiling heights. For full floor-to-floor heights, architecture firm executioner Adjusts a higher range from 14 to 16 feet, while SGA Refers to 14 feet 6 inches like the gold standard.

“What is driving that? [number] It’s an acceptable ceiling height on the market, which is about 10 feet,” Sullivan said, echoing Hemmel’s estimate. All of this must be proportional to the remainder of this dimension of which it is composed 14 feet 6 inches. So we find anything less than that pushes that 10-foot ceiling down with it.”

To truly understand how ceiling and floor heights hinder adaptive reuse, look at the streets of New York City. New York It has all the features suitable for a life sciences advancement, such as access to hospitals and academic institutions. However, Hemmel said many small offices, as well as side street buildings in Midtown, fall short of the ceiling height required for laboratories. This uninitiated brings life sciences potential to a standstill before it has a chance to explore.

But while proper ceiling heights allow fresh air to circulate, they are not the only way to meet this need. Instead, there are creative solutions to overcome spatial barriers. For example, additional columns can be built into the roof, although this solution presents another list of building requirements: specifically, roof area and access, as well as the structural capacity of such modifications.

In addition to this alternative, there are more creative ways to work around lower ceiling heights, Haverty said. And while these solutions are doable, they are not perfect. The give-and-take of laboratory essentials begs the question of when the building’s original features—or lack thereof—become a deal-breaker for scientific reuse. Just because you can get around the barrier doesn’t mean you have to; It suffices at a certain point, especially when you want to offer the best possible building possible to your tenant.

Without the proper infrastructure, Sullivan said, buildings that would be Class A offerings may become Class B offerings on the market. Architects can try to change the location of buildings, but spaces may eventually result in lower rental returns and attract fewer tenants.

“I think a lot of buildings I can not to Life Sciences,” noting that venting, auxiliary electricity, and generators are among other critical technical components that a laboratory should have.

As such, defining the ideal buildings for the life sciences industry requires a lot of trial and error, critical judgment, and patience.

“We’ve looked at a bunch of buildings that you don’t want to convert,” he said. Abe Mundanidirector of life sciences, West Coast at Oxford Properties.

Mundani and Haverty estimate that they have seen approximately 100 buildings in the past two years. While many of the characteristics appealed to them, they often couldn’t get past some of the key ingredients. Without the proper infrastructure – proper ceiling heights, as well as loading capacity and ample spacing between columns – moving forward is difficult and likely not worth it.

In addition to ceiling heights, Haverty cited the condition of the freight elevator, the location of the loading dock, and if it was a chemistry lab, access to chemical storage as pivotal diversion considerations. Loading and site access are significant barriers to lab success, not to mention tenant safety.

Another strict requirement of many lab users is the column spacing mentioned above, which immediately helps developers eliminate potential lab spaces. Oxford Properties includes an early design team to assess the property. Once the space is designed, it is easy to see if it will work in a future lab.

Putting such work into practice is essential in all kinds of development, but is especially important in the life sciences. In addition to basic structural and logistical fundamentals, lab spaces must consider the needs of very specific tenants—a task made even more difficult when you don’t yet know who your tenants might be.

“While we are always working to engage the local market [and] Experts in the local market to determine the feasibility of successful client acquisition, we usually would not proceed with these projects with a tenant in place,” Mundani said.

Working on specifications is giving way to the pace of the life sciences industry. Once the labs get funding, they look for spaces to live in. WWhen a life sciences company is just getting started, these spaces can be fairly public. However, as the company develops and becomes increasingly specialized, the building must be able to meet new specific technical needs.

“The lab space is not public,” Hemel said. “It’s very different for a neuroscience lab than an immunology lab. … They do different things.”

Because a lot of Life sciences development occurs on a speculative basis, with developers building needs they may not fully understand. While blind development seems risky, anticipating building requirements is actually fairly straightforward. surely, Developers They can’t necessarily expect a specific tenant, but they Can Measure the type of flag best suited to the building site.

In the life sciences industry, the concept of clusters often appears, referring to geographic origins that see established scientific practices. If a building is transformed within a particular group, that space will likely attract similar tenants to neighboring laboratories.

“You usually understand the demand for what science is gathering in the market,” Mundani said. She pointed to Seattle – where Oxford recently finished Converting a 130,000-square-foot office into a laboratory – as a market focused on cell and gene therapy.

Once companies identify market trends, they can plan their conversions accordingly and predict whether a life sciences company will thrive in any given building. What works in one laboratory may not work in another. Biology labs, for example, are fairly versatile and able to work in spaces focused on chemistry. However, chemistry companies may not be able to operate outside of a chemistry building.

These differences boil down to spatial features that may seem inconsequential but are integral to the laboratory’s line of work. According to Haverty, sinks are essential for chemistry labs. Because of the discipline’s routine use of chemicals and liquids, a chemistry company requires a large number of pans from the start.

“[Sinks aren’t] Haverty said, “Something you can easily adapt then, because it’s a lot more infrastructure: the kind of core and shell components that have to be changed to allow that to happen.”

While plumbing, HVAC, and electrical requirements may seem more adaptable than ceiling heights, for example, they are essential components of a building. It can be difficult, not to mention expensive and dangerous, to change this infrastructure after the fact. Unless a chemistry tenant isn’t doing a lot of chemistry, a heavy chemistry lab will struggle to operate in a space devoid of a sink.

You want to understand your infrastructure from day one, recommends Haverty. Once you’ve identified your target charterer, you can cater to the conversion and design process for that charterer’s needs – or abandon the vessel, if the basics aren’t available.

However, even when the features are aligned and the building appears ready for conversion, there is no isolated lab. Each building comes with a neighborhood, and the company’s location reflects its access to the neighboring largest body of scholarly research. For labs looking for inspiration, resources, and collaboration, communication can be just as important as ceiling heights.

“I think it has more to do with the neighborhood, and am I in a gathering that the tenants want to be in?” Hemel said.

Anna Staropoli can be reached at [email protected].

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