Northwestern Can Now Go Deep, Reach High in Streeterville

333 East Superior

The muddy mess that once one Prentice Women’s Hospital is about to really and truly become Northwestern’s new medical research building.

Drawing of Northwestern Biomedical Research Tower

Northwestern Biomedical Research Tower

The city has issued a permit so that all that heavy machinery that’s been planting caissons at 303 East Superior Street can plant those caissons and do the rest of the foundation work on the Perkins+Will-designed building:

Foundation and below grade (2 basements) construction for new 14 Story Medical Labl Addition to the existing Robert Lurie Building. PLANNED DEVELOPMENT, DEEP FOUNDATION LEED CERTIFIED

But don’t just stare at the ground.  Keep your eyes on the sky, too.  Northwestern is wasting no time with this project.  Just two days after the foundation permit was issued, another permit was issued for a tower crane.  So expect things to move swiftly.

That “deep foundation” note in the first permit is there because this is yet another example of a downtown Chicago building designed from the outset to be expanded vertically.  The 14-story main portion of the Louis A. Simpson & Kimberly K. Querrey Biomedical Research Center is going up now.  The glass tower planned to top the podium is… a little more abstract.  Northwestern will only say it’s going to be constructed at a future date.  It’s even a little cagey on the height, with promotional material promising only that it will be ” at least an additional 15 floors.”

Northwestern describes the function of the building thusly:

On each floor, we will create large and flexible laboratory blocks, known as neighborhoods. Each neighborhood will house between 6 to 9 research teams. Offices for principal investigators and their teams and formal and informal meeting spaces will be within each neighborhood, adjacent to the laboratories. To further propel collaboration, there will be a series of two-story collaboration spaces in the heart of the building, shared by all laboratory neighborhoods. Conference, informal seating groups, and other facilities will be located to encourage interactions and an exchange of ideas among researchers.

“The generator from day one was the lab plan for the building,” said Ralph Johnson, design director of Perkins+Will. “It wasn’t creating a sculpture and fitting in the plan. It’s all about the research and the labs, and that’s the generator of the idea. When you do that, the shape of the building starts to happen.”


Location: 303 East Superior Street, Streeterville

Author: Daniel Schell

Daniel Schell is a West Loop social media addict who lives for Cubs baseball, good pizza, and big cities. If you bump into him on the street, it's likely because he's taking photos instead of watching where he's going, and he apologizes.

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