Planned research building designed for innovation, collaboration

The Biomedical Innovation Building will be the first in a sequence of new buildings that eventually will replace the outdated complex comprising the Grant, Alway, Lane and Edwards buildings.

- By Ruth Schechter

The Biomedical Innovation Building is scheduled to be completed in 2019.
ZGF Architects

In 1959, when the School of Medicine relocated from San Francisco to a new complex on the university campus, a gallon of gas was 25 cents, Alaska became the 49th state, Doris Day ruled the radio waves and Barbie hit toy stores.

Designed by Edward Durell Stone, the complex integrated outdoor and interior landscapes, with pierced grills, walls of glass bricks and a network of courtyards. But the buildings that compose the complex have not kept up with the accelerating demands of today’s medicine, and while the recent addition of structural steel frames to the exterior of the Edwards building makes it seismically safe, the buildings remain functionally deficient.

“Our labs were designed in the year Sputnik went up and built during the Eisenhower administration,” said Robert Jackler, MD, professor and chair of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery. “Needless to say, our needs have changed. Our labs are scattered and out of date. The long-term sustainability of our research mission clearly requires additional space. It’s time to decant the building. The complex is at the end of its usefulness.”

The Biomedical Innovation Building is the first step in a sequence of new buildings that eventually will replace the outdated complex, which includes the Grant, Alway, Lane and Edwards buildings. The BMI Building will be designed to encourage interdisciplinary studies and quickly move biomedical research into clinical practice.

‘Creating a contemporary environment’

The 215,500-square-foot structure will be located on open space along Pasteur Drive, just steps from the medical school’s research buildings and the new Stanford Hospital. With four floors above ground and one below, the building will be a significant step toward replacing outdated research facilities and easing the space crunch. It will house laboratories and support space for nearly 1,000 faculty, students and staff in specialties that include orthopedic surgery, pediatrics, immunology and genomics.

“The BMI will bring together world-leading research teams in a modern and technologically advanced facility,” said Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the School of Medicine. “More than that, the BMI will foster scientific collaboration and encourage the formal and informal interactions that are necessary for innovation and precision health.”

The building, which is scheduled for completion by 2019, will bring together multidisciplinary teams of engineers, basic scientists and physician-researchers from nine areas, including the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research; the Stanford Initiative to Cure Hearing Loss; the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute; the Stanford Human Systems Immunology Center<; and the Stanford Institute for Immunity, Transplantation and Infection.

Open spaces

The building’s central concept is to foster collaboration and interaction through open lab configurations and spaces that enable occupants to gather, confer and mingle. Each floor will include adaptable conference rooms, small huddle booths and open lounge areas. An 80-seat meeting room and a large outdoor terrace will be accessible for scientific symposia and receptions.

Niraj Dangoria, associate dean for facilities planning and management at the medical school, said the building integrates lessons learned from the design of the school’s previous research buildings. Dispersed throughout the floor plan are areas for formal and informal interactions, a feature especially important for encouraging collaboration among the scientists and physicians.

“The new building will help build stronger institutes and departments because of the enhanced interconnectivity and new facilities,” said Jackler, who worked with the architects to help refine the plans. “The co-location of researchers will increase scientific synergy. Not only will we take steps to address the research space crisis in the medical school, we will have modern laboratory space with better connectivity of shared interests and technologies.”

Each floor will house shared laboratory space arranged in color-coded zones for traditional research activities, as well as for “dry” research that leverages Stanford’s strengths in computational science and big data. Oversized windows will ensure lots of natural light and offer expansive views of the medical campus. The contemporary design will integrate the highest standards of sustainability and environmental concerns and reflect best practices for laboratory design safety and space allocation.

“We are planning to accommodate the needs of researchers for many years to come, so the building’s infrastructure needs to be flexible and adaptable,” Dangoria said. “Technologies are changing, and finding contiguous space to grow continues to be a challenge. Faculty, fellows and students require spaces that encourage collaborative, multidisciplinary efforts, so we approached the design to inspire ways for different disciplines to work together on basic, translational and clinical studies.”    

About Stanford Medicine

Stanford Medicine is an integrated academic health system comprising the Stanford School of Medicine and adult and pediatric health care delivery systems. Together, they harness the full potential of biomedicine through collaborative research, education and clinical care for patients. For more information, please visit

2024 ISSUE 1

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