Bridget Lesniak
Managing Principal
Perkins+Will, Chicago

Nationally renowned for academic and clinical excellence, the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine is expanding its capabilities with the construction of the Simpson Querrey Biomedical Research Building on its downtown Chicago campus. The 626,000-gross-square-foot (58,157-square-meter), 13-story building, opening in June of 2019, comprises Phase 1 of 2. The building was designed for future vertical expansion of 18 stories, thus doubling the research space for the eventual build-out of 1.2 million gross square feet (111,483 square meters). We believe this will be the tallest biomedical research building in the world upon completion.

The two-phase construction strategy was a part of Northwestern University’s original project brief, in order to maximize the real estate potential on their urban campus. Designing for such significant vertical expansion was a unique exercise. The structural design supports Phase 2 lateral and gravity loads, and wind engineering was done for both Phase 1 and Phase 2 structural systems and cladding. Infrastructure planning required consideration of systems’ incoming capacities, space allocations, vertical distribution, and the impact on the constructability of Phase 2. LEED Gold is targeted.

Architecturally, the building posed two design feats: a holistic solution for Phase 1, and maintaining the full potential opportunity for the future Phase 2 tower, topping out at 600 feet (183 meters). The lot line to lot line high-rise physically connects to the existing Lurie Research Building’s floors, including two deep basement levels. Given the urban density of the academic medical campus, Phase 2 strategically secures its future of biomedical research, ultimately supporting 3,000 full-time researchers.