HOK was selected out of 14 participants to be lead architects for the Ri.MED Biomedical Research and Biotechnology Center near Palermo in Southern Italy. The facility will be managed by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which has previously developed a transplant center and clinic in Palermo. Entirely funded by the Italian government, the center is expected to open in 2016 and to employ more than 600 scientists and other staff.
The project renderings depict a compact campus of large structures that fan out in the middle of a beautiful landscape, between the Tyrrhenian Sea to the north and the mountains to the south. The set-piece buildings tightly line up along a slightly winding pedestrian street, creating a kind of urban condition with the street regulating traffic flows between the facilities. The central building will house conference rooms and other common areas, with a patient trial clinic in its immediate vicinity. Four wings will be dedicated to laboratory spaces, envisioned as light-filled rooms with flexible, transparent partitions and a mix of formal and informal areas to enable easy communication between teams. Future phases of the campus include a new hospital and medical school.
The 334,000-square-foot facility is expected to earn a minimum of LEED Gold certification from the Green Building Council Italia. In order to generate a cost-effective and environmentally conscious design, the architects are using building information modeling (BIM), a process that enables the monitoring of the building’s physical and functional characteristics from early stages.
The HOK-led design team includes Buro Happold in London and Milan, Progetto CMR in Milan, De Cola Associati in Palermo, Italy and Eupro in Ragusa, Italy. HOK has previously designed King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia and served as lead designer for the University of Chicago’s William Eckhardt Research Center and The Francis Crick Institute’s biomedical research center in London.