Some offices now sitting empty as companies shift to more remote work are being converted to lab spaces, according to the New York Times.
It adds that the commercial real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield says that the vacancy rate for downtown office buildings in cities across the US has reached 16.4 percent, as remote work has become more prevalent with the COVID-19 pandemic. But with an influx in funding, the Times reports the life science industry is taking over some of those spaces.
Changing from office to lab space can be tricky, the Times writes, as labs have different electrical, water, and even structural load requirements than offices as well as different HVAC and service elevator needs. Because of those requirements, conversions might not be more cost effective than building from scratch in some markets, though starting anew can often take more time, it adds.
The Times notes, for instance, that the specialized requirements of 10x Genomics have led it to convert office space while also building a new campus. "As a company like 10x grows, very quickly, and the complexities of their labs change, you start to need something more," Michele Hodge, 10x Genomics' senior director of real estate and facilities tells the Times. "And not every building can work."