Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise (BRITE) Facility / The Freelon Group Architects

© James West

BRITE is a part of a statewide initiative to make North Carolina a premiere provider of skilled workers for the biotechnology industry. The facility houses laboratories and classrooms for faculty providing undergraduate and graduate level education in the areas of Process Development, Quality Control and Quality Assurance. The facility, representative of the development labs found in industry, allow students to get hands-on training as part of their collegiate experience.

Architect: The Freelon Group Architects Location: Durham, North Carolina, USA Project Area: 59,900 sqf Photographs: James West

An addition to the Mary M. Townes Science Building, the BRITE building consists of 59,900 sqf of research and teaching laboratories. While connected to the Science Center for pedagogical purposes, the intent of BRITE was to establish its own image and story within the campus. The west elevation is derived from an unfolded DNA strand. The DNA metaphor is reflective of the building’s bio-manufacturing teaching mission. While standing apart in scale and form, the building uses similar materials to harmonize with its surrounding context.

© James West

The plan for BRITE is a simple stratification of office, circulation, lab support and lab from east to west respectively. The east elevation facing the courtyard is a semi-transparent curtain wall while the west elevation is masonry with vertical windows. The east/office side of the building facing the courtyard is thought of as more expressive of the individual (faculty) and thus more contemplative and connected to the green space through transparency. The west side is conceived as a team environment and cloistered by a masonry shell which protects the interior environment from the western sun.

© James West

Visibility for BRITE is a driving factor for the planning of the project. The mechanical systems on the roof above the laboratories are screened by a perforated roof which turns down to create a 45-foot high modern archway. This archway, highly visible from the east and west, become a gateway for the campus and a highly visible entrance for BRITE.


Architect of Record: O’Brien Atkins General Contractor: Turner Contracting Co. Structural Engineer: GKC Associates, P.A. Civil Engineer: McKim & Creed MEP Engineer: Clark Richardson Biskup Landscape Architects: O’Brien/Atkins Site Group

© James West

About this author
Cite: Christopher Henry. "Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise (BRITE) Facility / The Freelon Group Architects" 31 May 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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