Finishing the Medical Mile

Ribbon cut as Viñoly's phase II of Van Andel expansion completes

by Laura 10 December 2009
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    Rafael Viñoly Architects has announced the completion of Phase II of the Van Andel Institute of Education and Medical Research Centre (VAI) in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

    A major fixture of Grand Rapid’s ‘Medical Mile’, the institute was designed by Viñoly in 1997 as a phased-growth facility, expandable and adaptable to meet the changing needs of its team of elite researchers who focus primarily on cancer research. The eight storey expansion creates 22,300 sq m of new laboratory space as well as innovative environmental and service features.

    Built into a hillside overlooking downtown Grand Rapids, the Van Andel Institute’s dramatic stepped silhouette follows the sloping topography of its scenic site. Inside, terraced floors punctuated by double-height atria are glazed in segmented-arc skylights that allow natural light to flood into the laboratories below. Connecting the laboratories, public corridors and stairwells are brightly lit while on the lower floors, light and vibration-sensitive spaces—including a 325-seat auditorium and imaging spaces—are tucked into the face of the hill, along with loading docks and parking for 35 cars.

    With Phase II, the building has doubled along the line of its vertical concrete service core, which now acts as a central spine embedded in the structure. To the east of the core, three sky-lit floors housing laboratories and administrative offices are cantilevered over the main entrance plaza and lobby; from there, visitors can directly access conference and event spaces, as well as the cafeteria and library.

    Chairman and CEO David Van Andel said: “The buildings that rise along Grand Rapids’ Medical Mile stand as a testament to our community’s ability to unite and work together. Now is the time to harness that ability to another challenge: to fill those buildings with the most capable individuals who will enable West Michigan to take its place as a leader among emerging life sciences sectors.”

    Laura Paton

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