Science Lab Design

Resource Title:
Science Lab Design

The purpose of a lab and its corresponding instrumentation will accordingly determine many of its design components (Gottfried, 2005).

AVT Equipment

  • Infrequently used AVT equipment (projectors, overhead machines) should be stored on moveable carts or, when appropriate, mounted to the ceiling.


  • Central location of the chalkboard ensures an adequate view for all.


  • Consider placing workstation computers on a hutch at each work station.
  • Computers to be shared by students may also be placed in conveniently located work areas (for example, at the end of the lab table or in small computing clusters around the room).


  • For “wet” labs where water and various gases must be readily available to students, consider “dropping” fixtures from ceiling instead of affixing them to student work station surfaces.

Items for consideration:

The following topics are presented as items to be considered that will vary with the space’s intended use (physics, biology, or chemistry lab, etc.).

  • Traffic flow: Will instruments and materials be stored in a central location or be stored and distributed evenly throughout the room?
  • Accessibility to stored instrumentation: Are instruments readily available to students when needed, but not obstructing the workspace?
  • Visibility of teaching and presentation area: Can students and the instructor see one another?
  • Ease of student–instructor communication: Can students and the instructor hear one another?
  • Size of student work surface: Is there adequate space for required instrumentation, samples, etc. along with a notebook, laptop and other student materials?
  • Ease of collaborative student work: Are students able to work in small groups?


  • Storage may include closet space, workrooms, and built-in drawers.
  • Frequency of use and size of instrument should be considered to determine where items should be stored.

Ventilation hoods

  • Consider placing ventilation hoods along walls.
  • For example, a lab in the Undergraduate Science Building features a variety of storage options, adjustable seating, ventilation hoods located on the periphery of the classroom, and allows for an adequate view of the teaching area. Computer hutches at each work station also allow students to use the desk surface for note-taking or lab work.

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