From: Dan Kuespert <dkuespert**At_Symbol_Here**JHU.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Open plan research buildings
Date: Mon, 24 Feb 2014 13:11:08 +0000
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: CF30AC5C.12B41%dkuespert**At_Symbol_Here**

I was on the same tour. One thing I would point out is that the reconfigurability seems to come, in part, from provision for LOTS of ventilation zones=97which will be expensive from the standpoint of design, capital/installation costs for the controls, and operating expenses. (Cornell ends up saving money on the operating side by optimizing the ventilation, but that's another story.) The upfront cost is something that many administrators faced with "value engineering" a building may not be willing to expend. Penny-wise and pound-foolish, but true.

Which raises the issue of how to make the case for "safer" design choices in building construction to the administration. I'm sure all large facilities, academic or otherwise, have buildings whose designs are less than optimal. Such buildings are typically not "unsafe," per se, but they're more difficult and expensive in which to apply appropriate engineering controls than they would be had certain decisions been made another way during design/construction. (Example being a building whose ventilation system is so Byzantine that it nearly requires a complete redesign each time someone wants to add or move a chemical fume hood.) Anyone have useful input on how best to make these sorts of arguments? (Money always works well, but sometimes it's difficult to "monetize" safety benefits.)

Daniel R. Kuespert, Ph.D.
Homewood Laboratory Safety Advocate
Krieger School of Arts & Sciences/G.W.C. Whiting School of Engineering
The Johns Hopkins University
Shaffer Hall 103G
3400 N. Charles St.
Baltimore, MD 21218
(410) 516-5525

On 2/21/14, 3:57 PM, "ILPI Support" <info**At_Symbol_Here**ILPI.COM> wrote:

I was at Cornell U in Ithaca, NY last week, and we had a nice tour of Weill Hall thanks to Ralph Stuart and his crew.  It's a ~260,000 sf LEED Gold building and it features (among many other innovations and goodies), a wing that is divided down the middle with offices and collaboration spaces on one side and separately ventilated labs on the other side of the main hallway.  So, one aspect is whether the lounges etc. work for inspiring collaboration.  Have to ask the occupants.

A second aspect is the lab side.  Among all the many well-thought designs is one in which the lab space is completely reconfigurable.  The lab benches are modular) and can change heights) and the storage drawers etc. are on casters.  Gas, water and electric is provided by quick connects from the ceilings down to the bench top risers.  One could completely change around 1,000 sf of lab space in an afternoon, with the only tweak needed being a quick check on the ventilation controls.  Stunning.   If you have new faculty come in, the setup is quick and easy, or if two groups want to move equipment to work more closely, it's easy to do.

Ralph can provide more info/pics/whatever if anyone's interested, obviously.  But, again, the real question is whether the *occupants* find that the reconfigurable/open spaces work as intended.  I can pretty much guess the answer, but it would  be nice to hear from the folks that work there firsthand.

Rob Toreki

Safety Emporium - Lab & Safety Supplies featuring brand names
you know and trust.  Visit us at
esales**At_Symbol_Here**  or toll-free: (866) 326-5412
Fax: (856) 553-6154, PO Box 1003, Blackwood, NJ 08012

On Feb 21, 2014, at 3:23 PM, Monona Rossol <actsnyc**At_Symbol_Here**> wrote:

This is the same crap I hear from some college administrators who think they have a brilliant concept for planning a new art building.  The ventilation systems, emergency equipment, level of fire safety, and a flock of other precautions vary from media to media making them incompatible.  For one, OSHA requires 35 feet between welding (and other spark-producing work) and combustibles or flammables such as solvents, wood dust, plastic, paper, etc.  
It's easiest for me to make the case to administrators by looking at the just the ventilation.  The general ventilation standards and their rates vary for wood dust, welding fume, ceramic clay dust, acid gases created during etching, solvent vapors for plate and brush cleaning, etc.  This just plain precludes all this airborne junk from being generated in the same open space.
So I can tell you if science students or researchers work out on the benches without good local capture, this open concept won't work.  But you people like to stick your nasties inside a chemistry fume hood.  And if you do this consistently enough, you may not even need a dilution system with a specific rate for the room..  But I'll be there are fire, chemical storage, incompatible activities and other issues I haven't thought of.
So I will be VERY interested in the objections you come up with other than noise and stress--two conditions that I personally embrace in my own life. 
Monona Rossol, M.S., M.F.A., Industrial Hygienist
President:  Arts, Crafts & Theater Safety, Inc.
Safety Officer: Local USA829, IATSE
181 Thompson St., #23
New York, NY 10012     212-777-0062

-----Original Message-----
From: Ralph B. Stuart <rstuart**At_Symbol_Here**CORNELL.EDU>
Sent: Fri, Feb 21, 2014 7:30 am
Subject: [DCHAS-L] Open plan research buildings

I noticed while scanning this morning's C&EN headlines this notice:
Are you in favor of the trend for open plan research buildings? Do they make for 
more collaboration and better science? Or are they noisy, distracting and 
stressful places to work? At C&EN we'd like to hear your opinion for an upcoming 
article. If you would like to participate please email Senior Editor Alex Scott 
at a_scott**At_Symbol_Here**

I thought that DCHAS members might have some interesting thoughts on the matter 
and want to contact Alex...

- Ralph

Ralph Stuart CIH
Chemical Hygiene Officer
Department of Environmental Health and Safety
Cornell University


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