New Methodist Hospital Research Institute

The 300,000-sf Methodist Hospital Research Institute meets 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 space, including BSL-2 wet labs, BSL-3, and ABSL-3 dry labs; multiple imaging modalities; a cryogenic storage freezer farm; chip technology clean rooms; a surgical training center; vivarium; office space; and assembly areas. 

The public face of the building is a 12-story glass curtainwall, and the contemporary design clearly delineates the core program areas. 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. 

For the structural team, this project posed several challenges, starting underground. Existing critical utilities under the site, including the primary electrical service and two 30-in chilled water lines, had to be relocated and reconnected before construction. The design included a basement with a concrete utility tunnel to service the institute. Additionally, the facility abuts existing buildings on two sides and has a recessed ambulance access drive on the third. A cantilevered slab on recessed columns allows the institute to extend fully to the site boundary. The design incorporates 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. The structural 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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