Wet Laboratory space types are defined as laboratories where chemicals, drugs, or other material or biological matter are tested and analyzed requiring water, direct ventilation, and specialized piped utilities. Wet Laboratory space types do not include biohazards in Levels BL-2, BL-3, and BL-4 as defined by the 2007 NIH/CDC guideline "Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) 5th Edition,". The Wet Laboratory space types are typically located within a building specifically designed to house them (see WBDG Research Facilities.
Wet Laboratory space types are unique in that they must accommodate simultaneous and separate ventilation and utility connections at individual lab modules to ensure both the reliability and accuracy of results as well as occupant safety throughout the space. Typical features of wet laboratory space types include the list of applicable design objectives elements as outlined below. For a complete list and definitions of the design objectives within the context of whole building design, click on the titles below.
- Surfaces: Resilient surfaces are an integral part of the Wet Laboratory space type design. Use epoxy paint for lab walls and monolithic, seamless, chemical-resistant vinyl flooring with integral coved based and mylar finish.
- Fume Hoods: Design Wet Laboratory space types to accommodate one 6'-0" chemical fume hood for each laboratory module, and provide direct 100% exhaust. It is also typical of this space type to include an acid and corrosives vented storage cabinet located under the fume hood, as well storage for emergency equipment.
- Laboratory Occupancy: Occupancy Group Classification for Wet Laboratory is B2, Sprinkler protected construction, as per IBC, with a GSA Acoustical Class C1 for enclosed spaces and Class C2 for open spaces.
- Fire and Life Safety: All Laboratory spaces should contain a hand-held chemical emergency fire extinguisher in an emergency equipment cabinet. There is generally one fire alarm pull station by each egress point and an audible and visible (strobe) alarm in each occupiable space (not including closets, storage rooms, or coat racks). Also include toxic gas monitors in each lab module and a gas storage area with audio and visual (strobe) alarms both inside and outside the lab. Eyewash and deluge shower should be located at each module quad. For more information, see WBDG Security and Safety in Laboratories.
- For information on sustainable design in laboratories, see WBDG Sustainable Laboratory Design and Using LEED® on Laboratory Projects.
The following program is representative of Wet Laboratory space types.
- The planning module fits within a 24' by 32' column bay, which allows two modules to be joined to form a 24' by 24' lab suite.
The following diagram is representative of typical tenant plans.
Example Construction Criteria
Relevant Codes and Standards
The following agencies and organizations have developed codes and standards affecting the design of research laboratories, including those containing dry labs. Note that the codes and standards are minimum requirements. Architects, engineers, and consultants should consider exceeding the applicable requirements whenever possible:
ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers)
Department of Veterans Affairs
General Services Administration
- Airborne Particulate Cleanliness Classes in Clean Rooms and Clean Zones, GSA Federal Standard 209E
National Institutes of Health
Building / Space Types
Health Care Facilities, Research Facilities, Animal Research Facility, Research Laboratory, Academic Laboratory, Government Laboratory, Private Sector Laboratory, General Storage, Laboratory: Dry, Office, Warehouse (Space Type)
Accessible—Beyond Accessibility to Universal Design, Functional / Operational, Historic Preservation—Accommodate Life Safety and Security Needs, Productive—Integrate Technological Tools, Productive—Assure Reliable Systems and Spaces, Productive—Design for the Changing Workplace, Secure / Safe—Fire Protection, Secure / Safe—Occupant Safety and Health, Sustainable
Systems & Specifications
Building Commissioning, Project Planning, Delivery and Controls
- Architectural Graphic Standards, 12th Edition by American Institute of Architects, Dennis J. Hall. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2016.
- Building Type Basics for Research Laboratories, 2nd Edition by Daniel Watch. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2008. ISBN# 978-0-470-16333-7.
- CRC Handbook of Laboratory Safety, 5th ed. by A. Keith Furr. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2000.
- Design for Research: Principals of Laboratory Architecture by Susan Braybrooke. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1993.
- Guidelines for Laboratory Design: Health and Safety Considerations, 4th Edition by Louis J. DiBerardinis, et al. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2013.
- Handbook of Facilities Planning, Vol. 1: Laboratory Facilities by T. Ruys. New York, NY: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1990.
- Laboratories, A Briefing and Design Guide by Walter Hain. London, UK: E & FN Spon, 1995.
- Laboratory by Earl Walls Associates May 2000.
- Laboratory Design from the Editors of R&D Magazine.
- Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product by National Research Council, Committee on Design, Construction, and Renovation of Laboratory Facilities. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2000.
- GSA Sustainable Facilities Tool (SFTool)—SFTool's immersive virtual environment addresses all your sustainability planning, designing and procurement needs.
- Laboratories for the 21st Century (Labs21)—Sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, Labs21 is a voluntary program dedicated to improving the environmental performance of U.S. laboratories.