How did the laboratory building come to look the way it does? and how does the design of laboratory buildings shape the practice and accomplishments of scientific inquiry? Materials were collected for three biotechnology buildings: (1) Medical Research Building at the IU School of Medicine in Indianapolis; (2) Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine at Rutgers University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry in Piscataway, NJ; (3) Center for Advanced Research in Biotechnology at the University of Maryland in Rockville. Students conducted interviews with scientists and other building users, retrieved important documents from archived files, and conducted ethnographic observations of the building in use.
The focus was the planning and design of new laboratory buildings for biotechnological research. The goal was to learn something about how biotechnology connects to power, profits, social control, authority, inequality, negotiation, expertise, and other processes of enduring interest to sociologists. The planning and design of a new biotech lab is a strategic research site for examining these connections. What can we learn about the practice of science, and about how science and society shape each other, by watching a new laboratory move from a sketch on paper to bricks and mortar?
This study was supported by funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University-Bloomington.