Considerations for Laboratory Conversions – keys to successfully meeting the market demand

With unprecedented demand for lab space and not enough inventory in the Greater Boston and Cambridge market, conversions from existing office, warehouse or other space is becoming increasingly popular. Wise Construction has performed thousands of these conversions for nearly every type of laboratory setting, from basic maker space to research to BL-4 and manufacturing facilities. We thoroughly understand the challenges, key construction elements, and typical costs required by both the landlord and tenant.

At Wise we follow a proven formula that has been successful for selecting locations for these conversions. The most critical part of the formula comes down to three key elements:

  1. Complexity
    Understanding the goals and overall complexity of the lab will greatly determine if a space can properly handle the conversion to meet the growing needs of the future lab space. A former office space may be able to hold a chemistry or BL-2 lab, while manufacturing or vivarium spaces may be better suited in, say, an old warehouse.
  2. Considerations
    Considerations such as the building’s location, user’s expectations for the space and understanding the needs of end user’s processes can all greatly effect the success of a conversion. Local zoning, as well as code requirements may stall or even sideline a conversion. Firms may have plans to expand, and need flexibility, which is more feasible in some buildings than others. Lastly, knowing processes, such as loading dock requirements, material distribution, and waste flow will help ensure the space meets the user’s needs.
  3. Infrastructure 
    The final and probably the most critical project element for a successful lab conversion is an assessment of the buildings existing infrastructure. How will a new MEP impact the overall building and what other stresses will the addition of a new lab put on the building. Some main points of consideration regarding existing infrastructure include floor to ceiling deck heights, return air and changes per hour, and power considerations.


In addition to the outlined key elements, our team of experts can use tools and methods such as scanning existing space, modeling new designs, scanning slabs, performing structural reviews or working to pre-balance systems. Partnering with Wise Construction early in the process allows us to implement our formula for ultimate project success, delivering a converted lab on time and on budget.