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 two phases of renovations to create state of the art medical research space in the Richards building and on one floor in Goddard.
The design of Richards, while groundbreaking, never fully served the original laboratory program to its best advantage. The ambitious restoration and renovation project for the buildings included replacement of the exterior glazing and mechanical/electrical systems, and established design and preservation standards for interior renovations. Key to the success of this new program was 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
The work involved adapting research spaces for individual research groups each with specific spatial needs and technology requirements. We designed the spaces to meet the needs of each user while following design and preservation guidelines established by EYP. The renovation removed layers of existing finishes to reveal the building’s original concrete truss construction. 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; Envelope: CVM; Glazing: RWDI; IT & Security: SWM; Acoustics & AV: Metropolitan Acoustics; Materials Conservation: BWA; Construction Manager Ph 2: Intech, Ph 3: T. N. Ward; Photography: Halkin Mason