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Groundbreaking Set For Silverman Hall

Located immediately south of the Pancoe-Evanston Northwestern Healthcare Life Sciences Pavilion and Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Hall, the new building will bring together chemists, biologists and engineers to advance biomedical research through the development of new medicines and diagnostics.

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March 27, 2007 | by Megan Fellman

EVANSTON, Ill. --- A groundbreaking ceremony will be held at 5 p.m. Friday, March 30, for the Richard and Barbara Silverman Hall for Molecular Therapeutics & Diagnostics on Northwestern University's Evanston campus.

Located immediately south of the Pancoe-Evanston Northwestern Healthcare Life Sciences Pavilion and Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Hall, the new building will bring together chemists, biologists and engineers to advance biomedical research through the development of new medicines and diagnostics.

Those attending the ceremony will include Northwestern President Henry S. Bienen; Daniel Linzer, dean of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences; Julio Ottino, dean of the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science; Thomas O'Halloran, Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences; and Richard B. Silverman, the John Evans Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, and his wife, Barbara, for whom the building is named.

“Silverman Hall underscores the University's commitment to interdisciplinary research in the sciences,” said President Bienen. “This new facility, along with the other science research buildings completed in the past few years, provides Northwestern scientists and engineers with some of the best research facilities in the country.”

Silverman recently donated to the University a portion of the royalties that he receives from sales of the drug Lyrica, which he developed while doing research at Northwestern. The gift will help fund the construction of the $100 million building, which is expected to be completed in 2009.

In accordance with Northwestern's policy of using environmentally sustainable design for its new buildings, Silverman Hall has been designed as a green building. The University expects the building to receive silver level certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design as the Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center did. (The Ford Center, located on Northwestern's Evanston campus, opened in 2005.)

The new building, totaling 147,000 gross square feet, will have four stories above ground and one below. The ground floor will feature a major biological imaging center that researchers from both campuses will use to image molecules, chemical reactions and magnetic resonance contrast agents, to name just a few. The building will house other core facilities with shared instrumentation including facilities for therapeutics and diagnostics, proteomics and genomics, and computational bioinformatics.

When completed, Silverman Hall will house 16 research groups in chemistry, biology and engineering -- about 245 faculty, staff and research assistants. Each of the five floors will have state-of-the-art research laboratories and students offices; faculty offices will be located on the third and fourth floors.

The building also will be home to the Chemistry of Life Processes (CLP) Institute, which will bring together interdisciplinary teams of scientists including chemists, biologists, computational scientists and engineers. A fundamental understanding of how molecules work in living cells and organisms -- and relating that knowledge to advancing human health and treatment -- drives the institute.

“Acting as an umbrella for a variety of centers, the institute will facilitate collaborations among -- and help bridge -- different cultures,” said O'Halloran, CLP director. “By lowering the barriers to scientific discovery we hope, for example, to design new drugs for the treatment of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases as well as develop improved techniques for diagnosing diseases earlier.”

The building is designed to enhance interactions and collaborations among colleagues. There will be a variety of meeting rooms and gathering places, including two two-story interaction spaces, to encourage both spontaneous and planned interactions among research groups and across disciplines.

Zimmer Gunsul Fransca Partnership, the same firm that designed Pancoe-ENH and Ryan Hall, is designing the new building. Silverman Hall will be connected with both of those buildings via pedestrian bridges, extending the reach of the above-ground walkways that link Northwestern's science facilities.