New Methodist Hospital Research Institute

The Methodist Hospital Research Institute provides 300,000-sf to meet the hospital’s need for advanced medical research space. Located on a tightly developed site in the urban Texas Medical Center, the 12-story building has six floors of laboratory and support space for the study of infectious diseases. The new building is seamlessly integrated into The Methodist Hospital next door, using a “bench to bedside” approach that gives researchers direct contact with patients as they work in discovery and production of medications and vaccines, conduct preclinical and early clinical trials, and collaborate with scientists of all disciplines.

The research institute includes BSL-2 wet labs, BSL-3, and ABSL-3 dry labs; multiple imaging modalities; a cryogenic storage freezer farm; nine hot cell labs; chip technology clean rooms; a surgical training center; vivarium; 4,000-sf Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) lab for production of pharmaceutical samples, nanoparticles, and other materials for testing and research; office space; and assembly areas.

The Institute’s contemporary design clearly delineates the core program areas. The public face of the building is a 12-story glass curtainwall. The space houses the main lobby and public assembly areas on the lower floors, with researcher offices, conference rooms, and informal gathering spaces above. Labs and imaging are located behind the entry in an understated glass and concrete shell.

The project posed several challenges for IMEG’s structural team, starting underground where existing critical utilities under the site (including primary electrical service and two 30-in chilled water lines) had to be relocated and reconnected before construction. Design for the new building included a basement with a concrete utility tunnel to service the Institute. Additionally, the Institute abuts existing buildings on two sides and has a recessed ambulance access drive on the third, so the design included a cantilevered slab on recessed columns to allow the Institute to extend fully to the site boundary. The design also incorporated an 11-ft-deep transfer beam on the second floor to accommodate the ambulance drive below.

An architectural precast wall between the office space and research areas extends above the roof line and out from the two opposite facades, defining the two distinct volumes within. Structurally, the design placed columns just beyond the building perimeter on the two facades and extended them above the roof level. A steel beam clad in architectural precast runs between the columns across the roof. The precast wall panels are joined to the slab on each floor.

The structural system is a two-way reinforced concrete slab with cast-in-place concrete shear walls. Areas of the building supporting vibration-sensitive equipment are designed for 2000 micro-inch per second tolerance. Additionally, two floors of large-animal vivariums have slab depressions surrounded by trenches for easier cage cleaning.

The Methodist Hospital
Houston, TX
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