Completed Vinoly-designed Research Center encourages learning through patient care
Rafael Viñoly Architects has announced the completion of the Translational Research Center at Penn in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This first expansion phase in an overall master plan for Penn Medicine that includes both the University of Pennsylvania Health System and the University’s School of Medicine, the Translational Research Center builds on the original Perelman Center while simultaneously preserving its urban character and laying the groundwork for future development. As a translational facility, the new building unites research and clinical functions under one roof to allow the practices of scientific investigation and patient care to inform one another through close proximity.
The new research center consists of a 14-storey extension to the west wing of the Perelman Center. Despite its increased height, the placement of the lab building along the perimeter of the Perelman Center respects the central atrium as an urban landmark and public gathering place. The basement of the Translational Research Center houses the existing Roberts Proton Therapy Center, designed by Tsoi Kobus and Associates, and for which Rafael Viñoly Architects performed limited design services, above which three floors expand the clinical spaces of the original Perelman Center. Separated from the clinical floors by an interstitial mechanical level, seven stories of laboratory research spaces constitute the facility’s new programming and include two vivarium levels.
In order to prevent noise and movement from disturbing the animals and to make service access easier, the design elevates the vivarium floors above the proton facility and the three floors that extend the clinical spaces of the original Perelman Center building, separating animal research from the lower public zones by an interstitial mechanical level on the fifth floor. Louvered windows on the vivarium levels admit natural light while reducing disturbances to the research program. Above the vivarium levels, five floors of open, flexible research labs feature thirty-six lab modules per floor and can accommodate 105 researchers.
The laboratory bench space achieves a new level of flexibility. Lab benches can be reconfigured or completely removed and replaced with computer workstations or traditional offices. This can be done without electricians, carpenters or plumbers and without special tools. Furniture and lab benches are ‘plugged’ into gas, electric and data systems that are available in a regular floor grid. On a day-to-day basis, users control their environment through personal task lighting and adjustable-height lab benches