By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS AND REVIEW MAGAZINE
Project partners McCownGordon Construction and BSA LifeStructures are close to completing a 9-story, 392,000-square foot, state-of-the-art pediatric research facility. Within its walls, researchers will discover new ways to treat, diagnose and prevent complex childhood diseases.
Construction of Children’s Mercy Research Institute (CMRI) in downtown Kansas City, MO began in Spring 2018 and is wrapping up now.
BSA LifeStructures Director of Architecture Jackie Foy (whose firm includes offices in St. Louis and six other U.S. cities) said CMRI’s design embodies a collaborative approach to translational medicine, research that will be delivered expeditiously from lab to patient and back again.
“The building’s interior and exterior communicate the forward-thinking nature of the collaborative research that will take place within,” said Foy. “The curvature of the building’s exterior contributes to the illusion of a DNA helix spire, and the building’s north and south façade designs each express a literal DNA pattern, a rare mutation.”
Science-inspired design can be found throughout the building’s interior, according to BSA LifeStructures Interior Design Director Erin Fogarty. “Fractals, never-ending geometric patterns that represent a dynamic system, are visual representations that convey the breakthrough discoveries that will occur in this research facility,” Fogarty said.
Examples of science-inspired design in the new building include a back-lit decorative glass panel more than 60 feet in length that leads occupants from the conference rooms and computer labs on the first floor through the building to the café. The building’s design was inspired by findings and research slides from a study about hematopoietic stem cells; blood-forming stem cells are an essential component of many pediatric cancer therapies.
McCownGordon Construction Project Executive Anwar Garcia said each floor of the building spans approximately 42,000 square feet. Floor five is entirely devoted to enormous mechanical, electrical, plumbing and other systems that will power the building such as those specific to humidity control and infection control.
“The cast-in-place (concrete) construction has been built to carry unusually heavy loads due to the weighty laboratory equipment and components that will be utilized by researchers, clinicians and others,” Garcia said.
Ceiling heights range from 14 to 19 feet, according to Garcia, with several floors containing up to seven feet of complex mechanical systems ductwork overhead.
CMRI is one of only 31 exclusively pediatrics-focused research facilities in the U.S.
A phased move-in is ongoing.