Translational Research Center / Rafael Viñoly Architects

. Photographed by Brad Feinknopf

Rafael Viñoly Architects [RVA] has just shared the opening of their Translational Research Center at Penn in Philadelphia with us.   The project, which is part of a larger master plan for Penn Medicine, accommodates research facilities and clinical functions allowing the practices of scientific investigation and patient care to inform one another through close proximity.  Building upon an existing structure, RVA’s addition contributes a functionally organized facility while respecting the spirit and urban character of the Perelman Center.

More about the project and more images after the break.

RVA. Photographed by Brad Feinknopf

The new building adds 14 stories to the west wing of the Perelman Center and consists of three addition floors for the clinical spaces of the original Center, toped by seven stories of laboratory research floors.  The two zones are separated by an interstitial mechanical level.

RVA. Photographed by Brad Feinknopf

Louvered windows on the vivarium levels admit natural light while reducing disturbances to the research program. Three animal-imaging MRI stations are located on the first floor above the proton therapy gantries in the basement to accommodate shared proton services. Above the vivarium levels, five floors of open, flexible research labs feature thirty-six lab modules per floor and can accommodate 105 researchers.

RVA. Photographed by Brad Feinknopf

The laboratory bench space achieves a new level of flexibility as they can be reconfigured or completely removed and replaced with computer workstations or traditional offices.   Furniture and lab benches are “plugged” into gas, electric and data systems that are available in a regular floor grid. On a day-to-day basis, users control their environment through personal task lighting and adjustable-height lab benches.

All photographs by Brad Feinknopf

Cite: "Translational Research Center / Rafael Viñoly Architects" 11 May 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 May 2015. <>
  • Kevin H

    Being a Philly native, I had high hopes for this project when its concept drawings were first released. But now that I see the finished product I feel nothing but disappointed.

    The overall form seems disjointed and forced. It is a box, but its not. The forms have juxtaposition but so little that the attempted statement feels halfhearted. I can’t find the story behind the choices made in regards to material or color so I won’t delve deeper into that.

    I had high hopes for this project because Trans Research is an exciting look into new scientific methodologies and provides the form work to investigate new ways of working in a scientific environment. Mobile casework is not innovation.

    Vinoly has done some of my favorite projects. whether it was due to the client, city or RVA, this project just feels phoned-in and a huge missed opportunity.

  • The Disgruntled Architect

    Kevin, I agree completely with your sentiment. In fact, I clicked on the link with the hopes that more information would point me in the direction of the design concept here. I agree that it is a missed opportunity to capitalize, through design, on the innovation of the methods and technologies that this building represents. I always reserve some judgment for value engineering, but this is disappointing.