Chris L. Smith

Chris L. Smith is Associate Professor of Architectural Design and Technê at the University of Sydney. Smith and Sandra Kaji-O'Grady are coeditors (with Russell Hughes) of Laboratory Lifestyles: The Construction of Scientific Fictions (MIT Press).

  • LabOratory


    Speaking of Science and Its Architecture

    Sandra Kaji-O'Grady and Chris L. Smith

    An illustrated examination of laboratory architecture and the work that it does to engage the public, recruit scientists, and attract funding.

    The laboratory building is as significant to the twenty-first century as the cathedral was to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The contemporary science laboratory is built at the grand scales of cathedrals and constitutes as significant an architectural statement. The laboratory is a serious investment in architectural expression in an attempt to persuade us of the value of the science that goes on inside. In this lavishly illustrated book, Sandra Kaji-O'Grady and Chris L. Smith explore the architecture of modern life science laboratories, and the work that it does to engage the public, recruit scientists, and attract funding.

    Looking at the varied designs of eleven important laboratories in North America, Europe, and Australia, all built between 2005 and 2019, Kaji-O'Grady and Smith examine the relationship between the design of contemporary laboratory buildings and the ideas and ideologies of science. Observing that every laboratory architect and client declares the same three aspirations—to eliminate boundaries, to communicate the benefits of its research programs, and to foster collaboration—Kaji-O'Grady and Smith organize their account according to the themes of boundaries, expression, and socialization. For instance, they point to the South Australian Health and Medical Institute's translucent envelope as the material equivalent of institutional accountability; the insistent animal imagery of the NavarraBioMed laboratory in Spain; and the Hillside Research Campus's mimicry of the picturesque fishing village that once occupied its site. Through these and their other examples, Kaji-O'Grady and Smith show how the architecture of the laboratory shapes the science that takes place within it.

    • Hardcover $35.00
  • Laboratory Lifestyles

    Laboratory Lifestyles

    The Construction of Scientific Fictions

    Sandra Kaji-O'Grady, Chris L. Smith, and Russell Hughes

    A generously illustrated examination of the boom in luxurious, resort-style scientific laboratories and how this affects scientists' work.

    The past decade has seen an extraordinary laboratory-building boom. This new crop of laboratories features spectacular architecture and resort-like amenities. The buildings sprawl luxuriously on verdant campuses or sit sleekly in expensive urban neighborhoods. Designed to attract venture capital, generous philanthropy, and star scientists, these laboratories are meant to create the ideal conditions for scientific discovery. Yet there is little empirical evidence that shows if they do. Laboratory Lifestyles examines this new species of scientific laboratory from architectural, economic, social, and scientific perspectives. Generously illustrated with photographs of laboratories and scientists at work in them, the book investigates how “lifestyle science” affects actual science. Are scientists working when they stretch in a yoga class, play volleyball in the company tournament, chat in an on-site café, or show off their facilities to visiting pharmaceutical executives?

    The book describes, among other things, the role of beanbag chairs in the construction of science at Xerox PARC; the Southern California vibe of the RAND Corporation (Malibu), General Atomic (La Jolla), and Hughes Research Laboratories (Malibu); and Biosphere 2's “bionauts” as both scientists and scientific subjects; and interstellar laboratories. Laboratory Lifestyles (the title is an allusion to Bruno Latour and Steve Woolgar's influential Laboratory Life) documents a shift in what constitutes scientific practice; these laboratories and their lifestyles are as experimental as the science they cultivate.

    ContributorsKathleen Brandt, Russell Hughes, Tim Ivison, Sandra Kaji-O'Grady, Stuart W. Leslie, Brian Lonsway, Sean O'Halloran, Simon Sadler, Chris L. Smith, Nicole Sully, Ksenia Tatarchenko, William Taylor, Julia Tcharfas, Albena Yaneva, Stelios Zavos

    • Hardcover $29.95