Transitional spaces at stem cell building encourage ‘cross-pollination of ideas’

Designed by Rafael Vinoly Architects with executive architect the Smith Group and DPR Construction, the new facility will act as the headquarters for the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research, analysing complex scientific data at the earliest stages of human and animal development.

Located on a steeply sloping hillside, the site posed multiple challenges for the design team. A solution was found in the creation of a raised serpentine structure supported by steel space trusses springing from concrete piers, minimising space excavation and incorporating seismic base isolation to absorb earthquake forces.

The main laboratory area is arranged in four split levels set in stepped stages working in harmony with the sloped nature of the urban hillside. Each of these levels is topped with a cluster of offices and a green roof-space planted with wildflowers.

An external network of stairs and pedestrian bridges takes advantage of San Francisco’s temperate climate, with internal stairs and break rooms providing a base for the ‘cross-pollination of ideas’ among scientists. Interior glazing maximises visual connectivity while plentiful glazing on the south-facing side affords widespread views to the wooded slope of nearby Mount Sutro.

Rafael Vinoly Architects is currently pushing forward on two long-awaited projects in London, UK – work has now recommenced on 20 Fenchurch Street (the Walkie Talkie) and the £5.5bn redevelopment of Battersea Power Station has been approved by Wandsworth Council.

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