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2015 AIA COTE Top 10: Collaborative Life Sciences Building

SERA Architects, CO Architects

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BrianMeloche, Cosella-Dörken Products Inc.

Project Name

2015 AIA COTE Top 10: Collaborative Life Sciences Building

Project Status



650,000 sq. feet

Construction Cost



Oregon Health & Science University, Oregon State University and Portland State University

Certifications and Designations

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Project Description


Three universities partnered to create the Collaborative Life Sciences Building (CLSB) and Skourtes Tower, a new allied health, academic and research building located on a brownfield site. An innovative model of interdisciplinary health sciences education, research and education, CLSB incorporates numerous sustainable design innovations, including eco-roofs, non-potable water storage for toilet flushing, atrium heat recovery and low ventilation fume hoods. Innovative material re-use included salvaging oil drilling pipes for use as foundation piles. The building is predicted to have 45% energy savings thanks in part to its thin profile that allows the labs to get daylighting from two sides.


Despite a challenging site for a complex university facility, the designers created a building that engages not only three university clients but also a variety of patients in an inviting fashion. To focus on rigorous sustainability with multiple stakeholders is challenging without clear leadership from the design team, and it’s obvious the design leadership had to follow through on clearly identified priorities, but this project demonstrates that even a large building with a complex program can achieve high performance. This building has a remarkable 67% of its occupants able to use public transit, cycling or walking to access the site, and it houses 400 bike parking spaces. Like the other winners this year it seems to buck the trend of over-glazed large buildings. The façade thoughtfully handles solar control and daylight harvesting.


  • Estimated % of occupants using public transit/cycling/walking: 67%
  • Daylighting at levels that allow lights to be off before nightfall: 55%
  • Lighting power density (watts per square-foot): 0.60 watts/sf
  • Outdoor views: 80%
  • Reduction of regulated potable water: 62% 
  • Total EUI (kBtu per square-foot per year): 110
  • Net EUI (kBtu per square-foot per year): 110
  • Percent Reduction from National Median EUI for Building Type: 45%

In October 2011, three of the state's top universities broke ground on a landmark facility that will combine the resources of Oregon Health & Science University, Oregon State University and Portland State University. The $295 million project is the first on this scale to combine the resources of multiple universities, expanding life sciences, pharmacy, medical and dental education in Oregon with 500,000 square feet of instructional and research space.

Portland's SERA Architects and CO Architects of Los Angeles collaborated on this multi-client / fast-paced project. CO Architects led the programming and design, and SERA acted as executive architect, providing sustainability design and project management. JE Dunn was brought on board during Schematic Design to provide Construction Management services with a GMP.

One of the unique features about this new building is the enclosure design. The exterior of the Collaborative Life Sciences Building (CLSB) is made up of pre-finished perforated panels of aluminum, engineered in a corrugated profile.

“While the perforated panels give the building visual interest, they come with a technical challenge with respect to wind and water intrusion,” explains SERA Architect, Sean Scott. “Coupling the Water Shedding Membrane with the open joint perforated panels meant avoiding wind-washing that reduces effective R-values and gives the assembly a durable, breathable, maintainable, economical and aesthetically pleasing Water Shedding Membrane (WSM).”

Finding the right solution was hard enough without having to deal with a hyper-fast track design and construction schedule that further complicated the project and all of its moving parts. For example, design, permitting, sub-contractor work sessions, shop drawings, and construction phases sometimes occurred simultaneously due to the fast-tracked nature of the project. But as the team soon learned, a collaborative and innovative workforce that brought the design and construction team together to find solutions for the exterior detailing would come to be the backbone of this revolutionary build.
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