The opening of the Leonard and Madlyn Abramson Pediatric Research Center in 1995 represented the beginning of a new era of accomplishment for The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Research Institute. The new facility more than doubled the space available for scientific discovery at Children’s Hospital.
Today, approximately 700 employees, including senior and junior investigators, technicians, assistants, support staff, fellows and students, work in the Abramson Research Center conducing basic research in genetics and genomics; cell, gene and stem cell therapy; vaccines; immunology; oncology; cardiology; cell biology; fetal research; pharmacology; developmental biology; defective proteins; the neurosciences; metabolism and nutrition; infectious diseases; hematology; child health services; and pediatric injury, among many other fields.
Ellenzweig Associates Inc., of Cambridge, Massachusetts, designed the building using a nontraditional approach. Unlike most buildings, where exterior concerns lead the design, architects first considered safety and space issues, designing from the inside out. The 440,000-square-foot, 13-story structure houses nine floors of laboratories for basic research, a conference center, a cafeteria and two levels of underground parking. The innovative design received the Boston Society of Architects/AIA and the New England Healthcare Assembly Honor Award for Laboratory Design.
Each of the nine floors houses 10 2,200-square-foot laboratory modules. A module includes laboratory space plus an equal amount of support space, including rooms for special procedures and equipment. This flexibility allows units to be adjusted to fit the changing needs of occupants.
Many of the laboratory floors feature a core facility that provides key equipment, such as gene sequencing, protein identification, microscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance imaging. This allows major pieces of equipment to be shared easily and efficiently, as well as providing sophisticated and convenient services to researchers.
The Abramson Pediatric Research Center was designed to encourage multidisciplinary research and collaboration among scientists from various research disciplines. Informal lounge areas, for example, are located on each floor to encourage interaction among research staff.
The exterior of the Abramson Research Center is made of curtain wall, or sections of plate glass and metal panels, precast concrete and granite. Two types of granite, a pink/gray and mossy green, are used throughout the building. Both aesthetic and energy conservation guided the selection of these materials.
The Abramson Research Center is within easy walking distance of the buildings on Market Street that house many of the Hospital's clinical research programs, as well as being adjacent to the University of Pennsylvania campus and its School of Medicine research buildings. This proximity allows for interchange and collaboration, as well as shared facilities.