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Design Finalists Chosen for Biomedical Research Facility

Three architectural teams compete to design new Feinberg building

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June 28, 2013 | by Storer H. Rowley

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University has selected three teams of architects to compete in a design competition to create an inspired design for a new 21st-century biomedical research facility that will help make Chicago a global hub for research.

Construction of the new, state-of-the-art complex for Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine will create thousands of jobs, help find tomorrow’s cures and generate some $3.9 billion in economic activity in Chicago over the coming decade. The new research building will rise on the site of the original Prentice Women’s Hospital.

Selected and approved by Northwestern’s Board of Trustees, the three teams of finalists are: 

  • Perkins + Will, Chicago
  • Goettsch Partners, Chicago, and Ballinger, Philadelphia
  • Adrian Smith+Gordon Gill Architecture LLP, Chicago, and Payette, Boston

Mayor Rahm Emanuel welcomed the announcement, observing, “The new medical research facility being built by Northwestern will have a strong economic impact throughout Chicago, creating thousands of jobs.

“I’m pleased that Northwestern is working directly with the community to ensure that its new facility is well designed and integrates seamlessly into the fabric of the neighborhood and the surrounding community,” the mayor added.

Each of the teams has a Chicago architect playing an important role on the project. All the teams have distinguished designers, and Northwestern officials expect to see three outstanding designs at the end of the competition.

Northwestern President Morton Schapiro called the architectural competition “a critical step forward in Northwestern’s plans to enhance our biomedical research complex in Chicago and  help achieve our goal of being one of the top academic medical research centers in the country.

“Construction of this new research building will bolster the University’s steady and significant progress on improving our infrastructure to do cutting-edge research, drawing the brightest talent to our campus and increasing the amount of research funding awarded to meet those goals,” he said.

Larry Booth, founder and principal/director of the Booth Hansen firm, Chicago, is serving as the local Chicago architect on the selection and design review team and participated in the interviews and selection of the three teams chosen.

Northwestern invited many of the world’s best architectural firms with substantial accomplishments in designing biomedical research or similar buildings to submit expressions of interest and statements of qualifications to Northwestern’s Facilities Management office.

“With this competition process, Northwestern is committed to the design and construction of a world-class, iconic building for the expansion of our Chicago medical research facilities,” said Ron Nayler, associate vice president for facilities management at Northwestern. “A similar process was used for selecting architects for new buildings for the Bienen School of Music and the School of Communication, now under construction, and the Kellogg School of Management, now in design, on the Evanston campus.”

Following receipt of submitted materials, the University selected a number of firms to attend preliminary interviews. Based on interviews and review of responses to a Request for Qualifications, Northwestern selected the firms teamed up for the final stage of the competition.

Competitors now will be given programmatic information about the site, building size, phasing, components and other building needs to enable each firm to submit a preliminary schematic design to Northwestern. Required submissions for the competition will include a model and appropriate drawings, among other materials, and plans will be submitted to Northwestern senior management and the University’s Board of Trustees. Each firm will receive a substantial sum of money for its efforts.

Narrowing the group down to a winner will involve a great deal of input from various stakeholders. All of the models will be put on display for faculty, staff, students and members of the public to view. A process will be put in place to record reactions that will be given to the University.

The final selection will be made by Northwestern’s Board of Trustees. The selection of the winning design is expected to take place by late fall this year.

The geographical positioning of the new Feinberg School of Medicine facility near world-class partners -- industrial, commercial, entrepreneurial and academic -- provides rare opportunities for discovery.

The new building will allow the University to attract an additional $150 million a year in new medical research dollars, create 2,000 new full-time jobs and generate an additional $390 million a year in economic activity in Chicago. The new center will attract the world's best medical researchers and go a long way toward helping a world-class city find tomorrow’s cures.

Topics: University