Cure For The Common Medical Center
Thursday, March 13th, 2014
Jutting into the Boston skyline, the Center for Life Science was just what the doctor ordered for one of the few open sites within the city’s dense Longwood Medical Area. The new 20-story, 776,000-square-foot labora- tory and research facility now serves tenants from Harvard Medical School to the Pfizer Center for Therapeutic Innovation, but when architects Tsoi/ Kobus began the ambitious project, the occupants had yet to be determined.
“We did not necessarily know who the users would be, and so we had to plan for a wide range of laboratory environments,” Tsoi/Kobus’ senior principal Rick Kobussays.“The success of the project depended in large part on ‘getting the bones right’—achieving the most cost-effective core and shell, providing maximum flexibility for virtually any scientific or engineering demand, and allowing for future change with minimal disruption to ongoing scientific activities.”
The resulting structure allowed for wet, dry, computational, and translational research; allocated utilities to accommodate each tenant’s individual use; and was organized around the concept of open modular labs with support facilities placed at the complex’s core. An angled glass curtain wall sets the center apart from its concrete surroundings and with its bifurcated, interlocking volumes, the building reflects “the progressive, analytical nature of the research process occurring within,” Kobus says.
“The design optimizes an unusual site configuration by varying the floor size as the building rises, creating a uniquely memorable façade.”
As if the work going on inside wasn’t groundbreaking enough, through tilting planes, cantilevers, and curves, the Tsoi/Kobus team burst through the area’s unofficial 200-foot height barrier as well with full support from the community.
“We created a building form that is sympathetic with the context of the existing neighborhood,” Kobus says. “But it’s a taller form that is more emblematic of cutting-edge research.”