Space Odyssey

Universities explore the benefits of designing huge, open laboratories where scientists share territory instead of fighting over it

Universities are starting to break down the walls that divide scientists -- literally. Over the past several years, dozens of new laboratory buildings have been constructed with large open spaces containing row upon row of laboratory benches. More are under construction around the country.

These new lab designs represent a radical shift away from the long-held tradition that scientists work best in small rooms operated as private fiefdoms. Traditional laboratory rooms hold just a