New funding has been secured for the expansion of the Simpson Querrey Biomedical Research Center at 303 E Superior Street in Streeterville. Located just east of the intersection with N Fairbanks Court, the current structure operated by Northwestern University is sandwiched between two medical office high-rises near their downtown hospital. The university, which recently announced a redesign of Ryan Field in Evanston, is now moving forward with its second phase which is expected to use the same team as phase one including global firm Perkins & Will along with engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti.
The initial phase of the project was highly controversial as it called for the demolition of Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Women’s Hospital. Built in 1975, the four-leaf clover design combined four cylinders with oval windows containing rooms that cantilevered over a glass box holding the operational program. The biomimicry brutalist structure looked into patient care for inspiration, the base plinth allowed for flexibility as technology changes in contrast to the tower which created more walking routes that foster social encounters, while being equidistant from a central nurse’s station for efficiency.
Eventually Northwestern won the argument and demolished the building in 2013 in order to construct their new facility which went through a small design competition to select the architect. Opening in 2019, the 12-story, 258-foot-tall structure with an undulating form provided 629,000 square feet of lab and research space with many unique design aspects. These included over designing the foundations and superstructure for the worst-case scenario of both phases, including a foundation for the future crane, areas to tie the crane into the existing and more.
Now a few years later the university received a massive $121 million gift to go towards expanding biomedical research at the Feinberg School of Medicine. Of this total, $64 million will go towards a 19-story, 340-foot-tall expansion above the existing building, creating an additional 15 lab floors along with other support spaces and classrooms. This will create the largest academic biomedical research facility in the world as well as one of the tallest lab buildings ever built. The labs will expand on their current focus of cancer, heart disease, neurodegenerative disorders, diabetes, epigenetics, and genomics.
Future users of the tower can access bus service for CTA Routes 2, 3, 26, 29, 65, 66, 120, 121, and 157 all within a five-minute walk, along with the CTA Red Line at Chicago station via an 11-minute walk. The project will now need to return to the drawing board to update the design although it is expected to remain relatively the same, at the moment no construction timeline or groundbreaking date has been announced and it will need to gather additional funding.