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St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis announced in February 2018 that it would develop a $412-million advanced research center, intended to foster transformative research and collaboration as well as entice scientists and clinicians to join the St. Jude faculty. 

The 625,000 sf center broke ground in the spring and is slated to open in 2021. The project is a key component of a $1 billion capital expansion of the St. Jude campus.

Rendering of the new research center at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. All images: The Crump Firm

“The advanced research center will bring together a powerful combination of talent and technology in a space designed to propel discovery,” said James R. Downing, M.D., St. Jude president and chief executive officer, in a statement. “We are creating an environment where scientists and clinicians will have ready access to leading-edge resources and opportunities to pursue breakthroughs in hopes of accelerating progress in treating and curing catastrophic pediatric diseases.”

Interior view of the research center.

“Our aim was to enhance visual transparency both within and between floors. We will arrange areas around shared resources so researchers can connect with one another,” James Morgan, PhD, scientific director, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital told Laboratory Design. “A feeling of openness and transparency is enhanced through the use of interior glass walls and natural light from a courtyard and skylights. Bridges and open staircases span the atriums and link interaction zones.”

Research Tower West.

The facility will feature six floors state-of-the-art research labs, focused on immunology, neurobiology, cell and molecular biology, gene editing, metabolomics, advanced microscopy, epigenetics, genomics, immunotherapy and RNA biology. 

“The Advanced Research Center is actually comprised of five separate buildings due to seismic issues in the Memphis area. The fault lines informed the design of the building. And while it is five separate buildings, it will feel like a single collaborative space,” said Morgan.

Seismic issues in the Memphis area influenced the design of the building.

Sustainability features include leading-edge energy efficiency practices; materials that have been procured from the Memphis area; an all-LED dimmable lighting system; continuing to incorporate HEPA-filtered air; and a magnetic bearing chiller that will make the building efficient at low outside temperatures. 

Aerial view.

The research center was design with flexible features to accommodate future research advancements. 

Lobby view.

“To ‘future-proof’ the center, two floors and part of the basement will be shelled for future growth. We have identified optimal locations for current and future instrumentation that might be sensitive to interference from vibration, electromagnetic field lighting or fluctuating temperature, and have designed them appropriately,” said Morgan. 

“Thus, the advanced research center is expected to serve the institution’s needs in the short and long terms. This could also allow St. Jude to recruit and develop new departments and department chairs if research opportunities are identified.”

MaryBeth DiDonna is Editor of Laboratory Design. marybeth.didonna@advantagebizmarketing.com; Twitter @labdesignnews

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