The days of the dreary, dimly lit, and dangerous scientific lab are over, or certainly should be. Every researcher has the right to work in an environment that's bright, clean, orderly, and safe. Modern technology and architecture, supported by reasonable regulations, ensure this for today's scientists. Before accepting a job offer, all scientists should take a stroll around the workplace-to-be to make sure that the facility is safe and designed to promote productive intellectual activity.

In my architectural work over the years, I've found that the deficient labs are basically of two types. The first occupies an older structure--probably pre-1950 or so--that was once a functional, well-designed building but, owing to evolving objectives and low-budget, jury-rigged renovations made to accommodate them, has become a maze of rabbit warren-like spaces that do nothing to encourage pleasant, productive work. The second is a more modern building--built in the '50s, '60s, or '70s--that...

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