Newsworthy: Alzheimer’s Building Opens

Oct. 1, 2007

The world's largest free-standing Alzheimer's research facility, designed by HDR Architecture, celebrated its grand opening in Tampa, FL, in September. The $25 million Johnnie B. Byrd Sr. Alzheimer's Center & Research Institute is dedicated to the prevention and cure of this devastating disease, which is estimated to affect more than 5 million Americans.

The new seven-story glass and stucco facility is located on a 2.6-acre site on the campus of the University of South Florida. It will house eight scientific teams, a clinic, an imaging center, and space for community events. Office space, a vivarium, clinical evaluation areas, and research laboratories will be included in the 108,000-square-foot building.

"A distinctive feature of the building is a dramatic four-story ‘cube' that is created with semitransparent glass, which serves as a metaphorical symbol of the mind and both its simplicity and complexity," explains Ted Sutherland, AIA, ACHA, senior design principal for HDR Architecture. "The high lobby space, created where the cube intersects with the remainder of the building, will greet clinical trial patients as well as visitors attending educational seminars and conferences. The building rises from a plinth, providing visual significance to support the prominence that this research institute has in the state of Florida.

"At night, special lighting shines through the semitransparent glass to create a dramatic architectural statement as well as expose a Rob & Tally Fischer sculpture," Sutherland continues. "The wood-clad conference center creates a contrast to the bare structural forms of the cube."

Research activities are conducted in the monolithic lab tower, and high-tech flexible research laboratory modules have been developed for Alzheimer's research. A glass "ribbon" of office space for the institute's principal investigators lines the lab tower. The main lab tower runs north and south, respecting the university campus grid, while the glass ribbon runs parallel and turns east to respect an existing group of mature trees. A future wing will extend east and north, completing the facility and enclosing the front entry court. 

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