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University of Louisville, Clinical and Translational Research Building


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University of Louisville


  • General Contractor: Messer Construction

Project Status


Year Completed


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Project Description

Cancer research is a limitless pursuit toward discovery; discovery of a treatment, a drug, a cure. This idea of discovery was instrumental in shaping the Clinical & Translational REsearch Building (CTRB). Material, color and view relationships are explored as veils and surprise within the 288,000sq ft structure. Notions of discovery and building relationships reinforce the objective of use. Supporting the University's efforts to become a National Comprehensive Cancer Treatments Center, the CTRB provides research and core labratories and vivarium space for 87 Principal Investigators concentrated on cancer research.

The 6-story building , located on a compact urban site, marks the gateway of the East REsearch Complex. A diagonal reference creates a visual link to the Universtiy Hospital where the investigators conduct clinical trials supporting the research within the CTRB. This diagonal intersects the primary pedestrian link throught the Health Services Campus and resolves into an urban park at the building's main entrance.

Designed as a series of material layers, each layer is peeled away to reveal the next. Brick masonry acts as protective skin for the laboratory neighborhoods, referencing adjacent town homes and the University pallet. As it is carved back, metal panels describing the shared common areas and communication stairs are exposed. the Investigators' offices are the next layer. Shrouded in fritted glass they respect solar orientation while creating a veiled expression to heighten ideas of discovery. The lobby is expressed through clear glazing, revealing the nature of the CTRB.

Located on elevated floors for security, research laboratories promote multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research. Labs are designed for flexibility, ordered into three neighborhoods per floor, allowing researchers to create homes in an open environment. Further promoting collaboration, support spaces are defined in groups of two or four, and cannot be owned by one neighborhood. Two primary stairs with natural light and wide landings encourage communication beteen floors.

The main floor is designed as welcoming space for the Research Complex. Multipurpose rooms are glazed with clear and fritted glass to continue ideas of veiling and discovery. A large backlit glass wall with DNa etched frit is the lobby focal point.

Color is used throughout as a wayfinding tool, providing space identity. Each laboratory neighborhood consists of three colors, differing from cold to warm as the building progresses from south to north. The offices are toned cool to warm in the opposite direction. Informal interaction areas and corridor terminations have bright colors to both surprise and excite researchers as they move ouside of their laboratories.

Sustainable design measures, including daylighting, eco-friendly materials, energy-efficient M&E systems and commissioning, were incorporated from project inception. The CTRB achieved LEED-Gold certification from the USGBC, becoming the first LEED-certified research building in the state.

The CTRB is a model for collaboration between researchers, clinicians, and students. The facility attracts and retains the nation's best researchers and augments the success of programs established within the University's research community. The CTRB represents an exemplary laboratory building that will accomodate investigators and their collaborative research initiatives well into the 21st century.
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