Stantec Anshen+Allen aim skyward

Unifying new Centre for Brain Health joins exisiting facility through integrated skyway

by Sian 24 November 2011
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    Traditionally, medical researchers and clinicians have rarely interacted with each other, but with the advent of translational research over the past decade, the medical professions are recognising the advantages of combining healing with scientific investigation.

    As the first known facility to blend neuroscience and psychological research, the 135,000 sq ft Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health will combine clinical and academic research programmes in a novel translational research discovery environment aimed at promoting collaboration. Designed by Stantec Anshen+Allen, it will bring together neurology, neuroscience, and psychiatry to provide patient care and support brain disease research.

    The facility is the joint project of the University of British Columbia and the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, which opened the Brain Research Centre in 2004 to advance treatment of brain diseases and the understanding of brain functions. The Centre for Brain Health will be operationally integrated with the existing Brain Research Centre, as well as with the adjacent facilities of the Institute for Mental Health and the Department of Psychiatry and Division of Neurology.

    A skyway will connect the Centre for Brain Health to the Brain Research Centre, which occupies UBC Hospital’s Koerner Pavilion. Construction of the new facility will unify the Health Sciences precinct, make the UBC campus more cohesive, create a gateway to the campus, and set the stage for future development. Clinicians will see patients on the two lower floors, principal investigators will conduct research on the two upper floors, and the level in between will house shared offices, and meeting and support spaces designed to foster interaction.

    A five-storey atrium will connect the research and clinical spaces and contain break-out areas for collaboration. The atrium’s glazed facade will be patterned with graphics representing the synaptic activity of the brain. The design arranges primary laboratories in an open plan and places them along the public edge, putting research on display and providing visual transparency. Because the facility doubles as a teaching facility for the UBC Faculty of Medicine, exam rooms and workspaces are larger than is typical to support learning and instruction during clinical activities.

    To make wayfinding easy for brain health patients, who may have mobility or cognitive impairments, corridors are short, with simple decision points and opportunities for patients to rest. The facility includes exam/consultation rooms, lab benches, a full conference centre, a brain tissue and DNA bank of samples collected from consenting patients, and patient and animal MRI capabilities.

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