Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
Signature neuroscience complex creatively combines wet and dry labs
This new building brings together three distinct research entities to create a world-class center for brain science: the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, and the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. Containing a rich array of wet and dry labs and animal facilities supporting biology, biochemistry, neurobiology, behavioral, and cognitive research, the building is designed around a daylit, sculpturally-shaped atrium lined with tea rooms, faculty offices, and seating terraces to foster interaction among the scientists.
The design addresses a major aspect of the tight urban site with a bold architectural move. A live rail and transit corridor bisects the site longitudinally, and the building straddles the right-of-way to create a single building. Special technical considerations include mitigation of low-frequency vibration that would otherwise disrupt sensitive imaging and research equipment.
- The lab floors provide the flexibility to meet evolving research needs and the intersection of the various research groups. Labs support cellular, molecular, behavioral, cognitive, and computational neuroscience research, as well as teaching laboratories for undergraduate students.
- In addition to the research, administrative and support areas, the building includes shared facilities such as an auditorium and seminar rooms.
- A 90-foot-high daylit atrium connecting the three entities provides focus for interaction and collaboration among the scientists. Terraces at multiple levels in the atrium provide informal seating and meeting places, while a café and the atrium floor support conferences and social events.
- The building is clad in Portuguese limestone and several kinds of glass to express each institution’s identity while unifying the whole complex.
- A unique circulation system provides secure separation of public and animal-related movements, both vertically and horizontally.