The Dry Laboratory space type is a laboratory space that is specific to work with dry stored materials, electronics, and/or large instruments with few piped services. The laboratories defined by this space type are analytical laboratories that may require accurate temperature and humidity control, dust control, and clean power. See also WBDG Research Facilities. Offices, General Storage, and Warehouse space types associated with laboratories are covered in their own respective pages.
Dry laboratory space types are designed to accommodate project-specific work patterns and scientific equipment. As such, they tend to include design features that provide reliable working conditions in a somewhat mobile environment. Typical features of dry 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.
Any new lab project must consider ABA/Section 504/ADA compliance, the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design published by the Department of Justice, and any state or local accessibility guidelines that may apply. The following are primary considerations for accessible design in laboratories:
- Provide some adaptable furniture systems and adjustable-height work surfaces to accommodate people in wheelchairs.
- Provide one ADA fume hood in each lab. An ADA hood is designed with a sash that opens vertically and horizontally.
- Provide one ADA height (34 in.) sink for each lab.
- Provide one ADA workstation/write-up area in each lab.
- Choose emergency shower handles that can be pushed up to stop the flow. Install pullout shelves in base cabinets.
- Install a lightweight fire extinguisher within reach of a handicapped workstation.
Constant and Reliable Temperature and Humidity: As some equipment and experiments are temperature- and humidity-sensitive, constant conditions are required in Dry Laboratory spaces to ensure that equipment can perform properly and that experiments produce accurate results. Laboratories are usually supplied with variable volume terminal reheat system with pre-filters and after-filters for 90% efficiency. In general, laboratory spaces have positive pressure relative to other spaces with no return air from the laboratory to the other spaces.
Dust Control: Just as experiments and equipment may be sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity, so might they be to dust and other foreign particulates. For more information, see WBDG Air Barrier Systems in Buildings and Air Decontamination.
Laboratory Occupancy: Occupancy Group Classification for Dry Laboratory is B2, Sprinkler protected construction, as per IBC, with a GSA Acoustical Class C1 for enclosed spaces and Class C2 for open spaces.
Durable/Flexible/Mobile Casework: As working conditions will often change due to new projects and equipment, dry laboratories are usually fitted with mobile casework to allow for flexibility in the floor plan. This casework is generally a pre-manufactured laboratory metal casework system with cantilever support off of central service chase system. Counters are typically a plastic laminate with integral splash. The chase system has metal channel support with a horizontal distribution of wiring. See also WBDG Research Laboratory and Trends in Lab Design.
Reliable, Easy to Access, Wiring System: Due to the flexible nature of the Dry Laboratory, the distribution of critical wiring (power, voice data, and HVAC) should be clearly laid out, and easy to access and redirect. Thus, a raised floor system is the recommended system of distribution of critical services for this space type.
- Provide a security system with one or more of the following attributes:
- Some means of access control, often arranged in layers within the building
- A computerized security management system (SMS)
- Special door hardware locksets or devices that function in unison with the SMS
- A means of visually monitoring sensitive or secure areas.
Install a biological safety cabinet (BSC) to allow work with harmful disease agents or infected tissues without risk of infection.
Fire and Life Safety: All Laboratory spaces typically will 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). For more information, see WBDG Security and Safety in Laboratories.
- Incorporate energy and water efficient laboratory equipment and technology.
- Use high-efficiency lighting throughout the space.
- Design with certified environmentally-sustainable wood, recycled/recyclable materials, and other green building materials.
- Provide natural daylighting and healthy indoor air quality.
- For more information on sustainable design in laboratories, see WBDG Sustainable Laboratory Design and Using LEED® on Laboratory Projects.
The following parameters are representative of the Dry Laboratory space type.
A lab-planning module of 12' wide by 24' long, with utility and service closets extending 3' beyond at each end. There are 24" deep counters along each side with 27" seating zones in front of each counter and a 36" walkway down the middle of the module.
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.
- Code of Federal Regulations, 29 CFR 1910.1450 "Occupational Exposures to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories"
- ANSI/AIHA/ASSP Z9.5 Laboratory Ventilation
- ANSI/ISEA Z358.1 Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment
- ISO/TC 209 Cleanrooms and Associated Controlled Environments
- NFPA 45 Standard on Fire Protection for Laboratories Using Chemicals
- UFGS 11 53 00 Laboratory Equipment and Fumehoods
ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers)
- ASHRAE 110 Method of Testing Performance of Laboratory Fume Hoods
- ASHRAE Handbook—HVAC Applications, Chapter 16, Laboratories
- ASHRAE Laboratory Design Guide
Department of Veterans Affairs
- VA 11 53 13 Laboratory Fume Hoods
- VA 11 53 61 Custom Fabricated Laboratory Equipment
- VA 22 62 00 Vacuum Systems for Laboratory and Healthcare Facilities
- VA 22 63 00 Gas Systems for Laboratory and Healthcare Facilities
General Services Administration
National Institutes of Health
- Architectural Graphic Standards, 12th Edition by The 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 and Planning of Research and Clinical Laboratory Facilities by Leonard Mayer. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1995.
- 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 Theodorus Ruys. New York, NY: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1990.
- Handbook of Facilities Planning, Vol. 2: Laboratory Animal Facilities by Theodorus Ruys. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1991.
- 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.
- Research Laboratory Design Guide by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Research and Development and the Facilities Quality Office. September 1995.
- 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.