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How Can Adaptive Reuse Benefit Life Sciences? Find Out At Bisnow’s Southern California Conference


With more scientific advancements on the horizon in the life sciences sector, the commercial real estate industry is exploring solutions beyond traditional ground-up construction to quickly deliver spaces that meet tenants’ needs. One option, converting existing spaces into labs, has the benefits of being fast, cost-effective and sustainable. 

For more than 30 years, San Diego-based Prevost Construction, a Skyline Company, has been assisting its clients with building commercial office interiors as well as revitalizing older lab spaces. Today, the company’s work also includes transforming traditional office and industrial buildings into modern life sciences facilities, and it has built out more than 4.2M SF of life sciences space since the early 2000s, Prevost Construction President Jamie Prevost said.

After being acquired by Skyline Construction in 2022, Prevost Construction has substantially increased its ability to take on life sciences projects, he said. This acquisition allows the company to broaden its reach to all regions served by Skyline, encompassing the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle and Chicago.

He said that the success of these projects comes from close collaboration among the general contractor, designer, building owner and tenant.

“Having early involvement from all parties and getting the cost feedback during the design phase helps the project stay on budget,” he said.

Prevost will be discussing life sciences building strategies at Bisnow’s Southern California Life Sciences Conference April 18, through his participation on the Innovating and Repositioning Life Sciences panel. The panel will identify the kinds of life sciences projects that can be converted or expanded to fit tenants’ requirements.

Buy tickets and register for the event here.

Bisnow asked Prevost about the considerations for adaptive reuse, building spaces with the long run in mind and the importance of pre-construction.

Bisnow: What are some of the benefits and challenges of adaptive reuse, particularly for the life sciences sector?

Prevost: The main benefit is speed-to-completion. Building owners need to mobilize, design and build a facility that suits the needs of the scientific environment, whether that involves expanding the space with the end-user or through adaptive reuse. Having speed-to-completion means that the construction of an updated, state-of-the-art sciences facility can be completed on a much faster timeframe than a new building. This allows the end-user to expand their business more quickly to meet the needs of scientific research and discovery. 

Specifically in San Diego, there was a huge lack of available quality lab space. However, over the last seven or eight years, there's been a red-hot market push on adaptive reuse, and as of 2024, the market is experiencing oversupply and lower demand. There’s over 4M SF of lab space coming online this year, which will create a huge supply of new space that needs to be absorbed over time.

Bisnow: How does Prevost Construction create lab build-outs that suit client's needs?

Prevost: We build out a lot of lab space inside of existing buildings and we also modernize already-built lab space that needs to be fitted out to accommodate some of the newer sciences. Much of the time, we're doing office-to-lab conversions or demolishing old lab space that has reached the end of its useful life, renovating and updating it to modern standards.  

We always come into a project with a mindset of collaboration with the end-user, the design team and the building owner. Historically, the project goals have always been to stay within budget, meet the timeline and build a high-quality product. Now, it's also about being able to listen to and understand the scientific user's evolving needs and input them into the design while simultaneously providing cost feedback so that decisions can be made in a timely manner. This enables the design team to obtain the necessary building permits prior to the start of construction. 

We work with the project team stakeholders as the general contractor and get involved early by providing pre-construction services in an efficient way. This allows all the project stakeholders to get the budgeting feedback they need so the project stays within the established budget and schedule parameters.

Among the challenges faced with adaptive reuse projects is discovering the unknown about the building and figuring out the unforeseen conditions. Afterwards, we’re better equipped to adapt that facility to the architect's design intent as well as the use-case scenarios. We take all those things into consideration while moving on a very quick and deadline-based schedule. 

Having this experience allows us to foresee how existing conditions may impact the design and make some bold predictions to plan ahead through pre-construction and avoid costly delays while the project is under construction. 

Bisnow: How can life sciences buildings be future-proofed? 

Prevost: Two things come to mind. One is creating flexibility in the design and layout of the space. Flexible lab casework is becoming the standard — instead of a nice-to-have, it's becoming a must-have. The ability to change out the different kinds of casework and adapt your lab space to quickly support different types of equipment is in high demand. The standard lab spaces for chemistry and certain biologics will always be the core of many labs, but flex space and configurations that are easily adjustable and movable are becoming the norm. 

The second is energy efficiency. Most facility managers are tasked with reducing or containing operating costs on top of the costs of the real estate and labor. Scientific research facilities are heavy utility users, so it helps to have energy efficiency built into HVAC systems, building controls and overall electrical usage. Environmental building control systems, water consumption protocols and alternative energy sources are more of a standard now than a luxury item.

Bisnow: What are you looking forward to most about attending the Southern California Life Sciences conference?

Prevost: I’m excited to connect with our clients in San Diego and within the design and construction communities. I’m looking forward to developing a greater understanding about the current trends in adaptive reuse as well as new and evolving trends.

I’m also excited about connecting with our peers in the industry and talking about what kinds of projects they’ve seen, how absorption is going, which tenants are in the market for labs and how the economy is picking up.

A lot of networking comes down to scoping out opportunities for collaboration. It’s important to find partners to collaborate with on a project who are on the same page about providing a successful outcome to whatever the developer or end-user envisions.

This article was produced in collaboration between Prevost Construction and Studio B. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.

Studio B is Bisnow’s in-house content and design studio. To learn more about how Studio B can help your team, reach out to