Repositioning a Landmark for Modern Medical Research
The University of Pennsylvania’s Alfred Newton Richards Medical Research Laboratory is an important building by Louis I. Kahn, one of the greatest architects of the 20th century. The site includes three original laboratory towers and a central service tower. Two additional towers, the Goddard Laboratories, complete the complex. Our firm recently completed renovations to create state of the art medical research space on six floors in the Richards building and one in Goddard.
The design of Richards, while groundbreaking, never fully served the original laboratory program to its best advantage. The University has embarked on an ambitious restoration and renovation project for the buildings that includes replacing the exterior glazing and mechanical/electrical systems, and establishes design and preservation standards for interior renovations. Key to the success of this new program is the removal of wet labs from the buildings and replacement with other medical research labs that require less plumbing and fewer air changes. The renovations have significantly reduced energy usage in the buildings.
"The renovation has pared Kahn's spaces down to their essence, restoring a Zenlike calm, and revealing the muscular concrete structure that made the design such a revelation in the early 1960s." Inga Saffron, Philadelphia Inquirer Architecture Critic
Our work involved adapting research spaces for five individual users in Towers C and D, each with specific spatial needs and specialized technology requirements. We designed the spaces to meet the needs of each user group while following preservation guidelines established by EYP. The renovation removed layers of existing finishes to reveal the building’s original concrete truss construction and all new mechanical and electrical systems were carefully integrated to respect Kahn’s original design intent.
Structural Engineer: Keast & Hood;
MEP Engineer: Bruce E. Brooks & Associates; Construction Manager: Intech; Photography: Halkin Mason