In 2005, the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) issued an RFP for an 80,000-square-foot stem cell and developmental biology research center, one that would put the institution at the forefront of the promising, yet controversial, field of human embryonic stem cell research. The university chose a narrow, steeply sloped site on its Parnassus Campus for the Regeneration Medicine Building (RMB), which was to include open wet labs, lab support spaces and offices.
Rather than design a vertically-organized structure, the typical response to a confined site, Rafael Viñoly Architects persuaded UCSF to extend the site to the west, creating a long horizontal building that parallels Medical Center Way and steps down following the slope of the road. This horizontal organization promotes greater connectivity across departments, helps to unify the campus and creates the opportunity for abundant terraces and green roofs. The building structure is supported by space trusses resting on concrete piers, minimizing site excavation and incorporating seismic base isolation to absorb earthquake forces.
The lab floor is divided into four segments, each stepping down a half-story as the building descends the slope of the mountain, and each topped by an office cluster and a green roof. Inside the building, the nodes between each segment are designed as hubs of interactivity: a half-stair connects the two lab levels, and stairs connect to the office cluster and landscaped roof above as well. Break rooms are also located at these interfaces, with interior glazing that maximizes sightlines into the lower labs and the upper offices, increasing the potential for chance interaction. The labs feature a highly flexible modular casework system that can be rapidly demounted and rearranged to adapt to new research needs while creating minimal disruptions to the research program.
Architect of Record
SmithGroup United States Design/Build Structural Engineer Forell/Elsesser Engineers, Inc.San Francisco, Uni.. Design Build ContractorDPR Construction