University of North Carolina Genome Science Building

University of North Carolina Genome Science Building
University of North Carolina Genome Science Building

With spacious labs and light-filled common areas, this facility integrates biology, chemistry and medical studies while also serving as a campus social hub.

Project Facts
  • Status Construction Complete
  • Completion Year 2013
  • Design Finish Year 2008
  • Size Building Height: 100 feet Number of Stories: 6 Building Gross Area: 210,000 square feet
  • Awards
    2011, R + D Award, Architect Magazine 2012, Award of Merit: Schools Over $50 Million, Associated Builders & Contractors of the Carolinas, Inc. 2013, Green Gala Sustainable Business Awards: Thomas Edison Award, U.S. Green Building Council, North Carolina 2013, Design Excellence Award: Education Design, First Place, American Society for Interior Designers - Illinois Chapter 2013, CRSI Honors Recognition Program award, Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute 2014, Excellence in Structural Engineering: Honorable Mention, projects between $50 m, Structural Engineers Association Of Illinois 2014, Honor Award, AIA – Illinois Chapter 2014, WAN Concrete in Architecture Awards: Shortlist, World Architecture News (WAN)
  • Sustainability Certifications LEED BD+C NC (New Construction) Gold, BD+C, Gold
  • Collaborators
    AEI Affiliated Engineers CCS International, Inc. Research Facilities Design Rja Group Walker Parking Consultants Susan Brady Lighting Mckim & Creed, Pa Stewart Engineering Inc. Martin/Alexiou/Bryson Pllc Tom Rossiter Photography American Aerial Photos Kimley-Horn Associates Hoerr Schaudt Carpenter Norris Consulting Jones Worley Cerami & Associates
Project Facts
  • Status Construction Complete
  • Completion Year 2013
  • Design Finish Year 2008
  • Size Building Height: 100 feet Number of Stories: 6 Building Gross Area: 210,000 square feet
  • Awards
    2011, R + D Award, Architect Magazine 2012, Award of Merit: Schools Over $50 Million, Associated Builders & Contractors of the Carolinas, Inc. 2013, Green Gala Sustainable Business Awards: Thomas Edison Award, U.S. Green Building Council, North Carolina 2013, Design Excellence Award: Education Design, First Place, American Society for Interior Designers - Illinois Chapter 2013, CRSI Honors Recognition Program award, Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute 2014, Excellence in Structural Engineering: Honorable Mention, projects between $50 m, Structural Engineers Association Of Illinois 2014, Honor Award, AIA – Illinois Chapter 2014, WAN Concrete in Architecture Awards: Shortlist, World Architecture News (WAN)
  • Sustainability Certifications LEED BD+C NC (New Construction) Gold, BD+C, Gold
  • Collaborators
    AEI Affiliated Engineers CCS International, Inc. Research Facilities Design Rja Group Walker Parking Consultants Susan Brady Lighting Mckim & Creed, Pa Stewart Engineering Inc. Martin/Alexiou/Bryson Pllc Tom Rossiter Photography American Aerial Photos Kimley-Horn Associates Hoerr Schaudt Carpenter Norris Consulting Jones Worley Cerami & Associates

Reimagining the research lab

The University of North Carolina Genome Sciences Building (GSB) reimagines the traditional linear arrangement of the research lab, locating wet and dry labs together in light-filled pods that encourage interdisciplinary interaction. The facility serves as a new social hub for the campus, demonstrating the value of transparency in science through its glass membrane and porous plaza level. A centerpiece in SOM’s Bell Tower District master plan for UNC, the building adds inviting new classrooms and laboratories while improving pedestrian access between the university’s historic North Campus and its medical school.

University of North Carolina Genome Science Building
© Tom Rossiter

Integrating uses across STEM fields

GSB serves as a center for interdisciplinary research, bringing together biologists, chemists, and the UNC School of Medicine. The design team created areas for traditional wet labs by dividing the building’s upper levels into three pods, each tailored to specific research programs. Upper floors house the laboratories and greenhouse, while the building’s brick plinth contains classrooms and informal spaces for the general student population. Through visioning sessions, the design team found that adjacencies between a diverse set of building users was critical. SOM proposed three neighborhood “pods,” each comprising wet bench, dry office, and support spaces – a breakthrough in organization. This enables wet bench scientists to better interact with each other and researchers in their quest to understand basic biological processes and generate discoveries that lead to the treatment of human diseases.

Genome Interiors
© Tom Rossiter
© Tom Rossiter

Bright, light-filled laboratories

Laboratory pods are lifted above a porous plaza level containing glass-enclosed core labs, wood-clad seminar rooms, and a new corner café with colorful seating and warm wooden features. A dramatically suspended, sky-lit oval stair links each of the floors and provides a sculptural highlight that enlivens the plaza and welcomes visitors. The use of exposed concrete introduces contemporary design into UNC’s traditional Georgian-style campus and eliminates the need for extra interior finishes. Concrete walls frame the research laboratories and pass through the exterior system of clear and fritted glass. Inside, the material creates an elegant finish, juxtaposing the building’s sleek glass and wood finishes and providing a timeless framework of adaptable spaces. Colorful furniture and lab equipment are reflected in the high-gloss polished concrete floors.

© Tom Rossiter

High-performance sustainable design

Certified LEED Gold, the project incorporates a suite of integrated sustainable strategies including active chilled beams, energy efficient lighting, and floor-to-ceiling high-performance glazing with a custom brise-soleil, sending ample light deep into interior spaces and providing a comfortable environment for researchers. Thanks to its high quality interior research space and unique programmatic layout, the GSB is a tool for retaining and recruiting the best and the brightest faculty and students.

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