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Collaborative Life Sciences Building & Skourtes Tower in Portland, Oregon by SERA Architects and CO Architects
May 17th, 2015 by Sanjay Gangal
Article source: SERA Architects and CO Architects
As Design Architects and Interior Designers, CO Architects worked closely with Executive Architect SERA Architects to create the design for the Collaborative Life Sciences Building (CLSB), which embodies and helps achieve the goals of an interdisciplinary, multi-institutional campus. The building does so in the form of a 12-story complex with 500,000 square feet of space for classrooms, lecture halls, and laboratories for research and teaching, including medical simulation laboratories for high-tech, team-based learning. The building is conceived as an innovative model of interdisciplinary health sciences education and research, engaging students, faculty, and pedestrians through a concept of “health science on display.” Slated to open July 2014, CLSB, which is targeting LEED Platinum, will also be a striking new landmark on Portland’s South Waterfront.
CLSB, clad in steel and glass, comprises three great volumes; the five-story south wing, connecting glass atrium, and the 12-story Skourtes Tower. The tower contains teaching, medical research, and science labs, mechanical spaces, offices, and a dental school on top. The south wing houses a leading-edge medical simulation suite for teaching, as well as administrative offices and classrooms.
Visitors enter from four points of arrival, heading toward their destinations through the open, transparent atrium, which exemplifies the idea of “health science on display.” Although there is ample underground parking, most people will arrive by bicycle, on foot, or by public transit. Sightlines through, above, around, and below positions in and around the grand atrium provide clarity.
Suspended walkways are a commanding feature of the glass atrium and bring to mind Portland’s nearby bridges. They also work as an interior and urban translation of the typical grassy collegiate campus grounds, where students’ short cuts across formal quads carve diagonal paths. The walkways proclaim, with dramatic flair, the vision and practical nature of this innovative interdisciplinary, multi-institutional facility. Literally bridging gaps between disciplines, the walkways enable efficient circulation among areas, and allow for critical casual conversation and collaboration on landings equipped with seating areas.
Sunlight bathes atrium spaces through glass curtain walls and a glass roof that is supported by slender, high “tree” columns. Another striking feature, a jewel box-like structure, protrudes beyond the plane of the glass curtain wall. This dividable lecture hall is lifted above the ground floor by column and brace supports. Clad in wood-textured panels, the lecture box differentiates itself from the glass building, although it ties into parts of the atrium cladding. A 400-seat lecture hall, a 200-seat lecture space, and a library can be seen through this volume looking into the atrium. The student lounge on the top of the box offers an indoor-outdoor space central to the daily life of the building.
Daylighting is a driving concept of the building’s overall design of the Skourtes Tower as well, with labs open to daylight on two sides. To enable this, support spaces are moved to the center of the floor plan and interlaced with the lab areas, exposing broad expanses of space to daylight. Office spaces are on the east side of the tower, adjacent to the labs, with a glazed, connecting staircase leading, at every-other floor, to communal spaces for conferences or lounges. All of those communal spaces enjoy views of the river and landscape. The building’s dental school, on the top four floors of the tower, includes a lobby and has panoramic views.
Increased focus on patient safety, team-based learning, and technology-integrated clinical care has placed emphasis on simulation as an essential part of a high-quality and rigorous medical education. CO Architects’ long-range experience in both health care and education contributes to the site-specific simulation center at CLSB. The fourth-floor center, equipped with state-of-the-art technology, is flexible, open and expansive, accommodating collaborative, clinical team training across disciplines and exemplifying the collaborative nature of the entire school.
CLSB’s interiors are program driven, using basic materials of polished concrete, drywall, and wood. Laboratory areas have maple benches and epoxy countertops, which, as with other finishes throughout the building, reflect light, underscoring the daylighting effect. Bright white abounds on interior walls, with a fresh color scheme of lime green, tropical blue, sunny yellow, and vivid red lining staircases. Furniture in lounges is comfortable and moveable to encourage conversations and collaborations among students and researchers.
The architect also worked with the client and other stakeholders to bring two colorful, bold pieces by Los Angeles-based artists to the building. A provocative piece by Pae White uses LED (light-emitting diode) tubes to cast light in a spectrum of colors across atrium soffits. Christian Moeller’s 40-foot-high outdoor sculpture reflects science and medicine with enormous red fiberglass spheres conjuring molecular structures.
Sustainability: CLSB’S diverse spaces come together in a building and site with numerous sustainable features that contribute to the project’s LEED Platinum goal—from amelioration of the brownfield site to on-street access to public transit. The site design features light-pollution reduction, storm-water management, and green roofs that serve to both reduce storm-water runoff and provide native habitat for species. Inside the building, water collected from the roof provides non-potable water for toilet flushing. Energy efficiency features include high-efficiency lighting, a tuned building envelope that responds to the climate, heat recovery from the atrium, and low-ventilation fume hoods. In addition, the project incorporates an innovative material re-use strategy that includes salvaging oil drilling pipes for foundation piles and repurposing existing site fencing.
The energy model predicts the building will save 32% more energy than a typical baseline building would, supporting the project’s initial goal of 30% savings. The project is planning to implement measurement and verification strategies to track performance.
SERA Architects is a multi-disciplined firm committed to sustainable design for the built environment. SERA’s staff of over 100 offers expertise in architecture, urban design and planning, interior design, as well as a sustainability resources group. Since SERA’s founding in 1968, the firm has been instrumental in the development of Portland’s national reputation for livability. SERA has a long history of creating successful, award-winning projects that strive for a sense of beauty, proportion and specificity of place while maintaining functionality and durability over time. For more information about SERA visit http://serapdx.com.
JE Dunn Construction is a family and employee-owned construction firm that is building on 90 years in business. With an Oregon presence since 1992, the firm is nationally recognized for integrating technology and implementing the Collaborative Project Delivery (CPD) approach on their complex building projects. JE Dunn focuses on building academic life science and research facilities, healthcare, advanced technology, and mission critical projects. On the Collaborative Life Sciences Building & Skourtes Tower project (CLSB) the team saved the client time and money by using a Collaborative Project Delivery approach and integrating technology, saving over $10MM by using their award-winning Bluebeam Paperless system and in-house MEP and BIM specialists. JE Dunn is community focused, exceeding 15% MWESB participation (over $33MM) on the CLSB project. For more information about JE Dunn visit www.jedunn.com.
DAY CPM Services provides comprehensive project management services as Owner’s Representatives for both public, private, civic, healthcare, and education focused projects through the Pacific Northwest. DAY is a multi-disciplinary firm managing an array of large scale capital improvement, new construction and award winning projects. DAY’s mission is to provide the highest echelon of project management services available so that each project exceeds the client’s expectations. For more information about DAY CPM Services visit www.daycpm.com.