Mapping the Future of Phoenix

Less than three years after Arizona leaders decided to bring the business of biotechnology to the desert, two world-class facilities go up in the Phoenix area, forever changing the face of the city

As builders, DPR alters the nation’s landscape. Across the country, numerous hospitals and laboratories have risen, while businesses have consistently relied on DPR to construct and renovate everything from corporate offices to advanced technology facilities. But few jobs will impact their surrounding community quite like the newest biotech facilities being built in Phoenix.

With the International Genomics Consortium (IGC)/Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) Headquarters, a design-build project led by DPR, and the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, Building A and Building B being built by a joint venture of DPR and Sundt Construction, Inc., the Phoenix area is receiving more than state-of-the-art laboratory buildings; it is attracting world-renowned scientists and embedding the business of biotechnology in the Southwest.

“With one million square feet of research space being built in less than five years, the City of Phoenix is undergoing a renaissance,” explained DPR’s Mike Ford. “This industry didn’t previously exist in Arizona, positioning the IGC/TGen and Biodesign Institute facilities as lasting symbols of commitment to this industry and economic development within the state.”

The 173,000-sq.-ft IGC/TGen facility, the first to be built in the 15-acre Phoenix Bioscience Center at Copper Square in downtown Phoenix, will give those organizations room to plan and conduct forward-looking biomedical research, furthering recent achievements in mapping the human genome to target treatment and develop cures for cancer, diabetes and other diseases. Additionally, the second floor of the six-story structure is reserved for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institute of Health.

“The IGC/TGen Headquarters building is a landmark project in the history of economic development in the state of Arizona. Through this project, DPR has had the opportunity to draw upon our extensive technical expertise to participate on the ground floor of biotech initiatives in the state,” continued Ford.

Just a few miles away from Copper Square, in Tempe, AZ, construction has been underway on the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University’s main campus since April 2003. The doors opened December 14, 2004, on the 172,000-sq.-ft. Building A, the first of four buildings that will make up the Institute. Building B, the 173,000-sq.-ft. second phase, is set for completion in the fall of 2005. Building A will provide laboratory and office space for 250 researchers in areas such as neuro-rehabilitation, genomics, molecular biophysics, infectious diseases, neutraceuticals and plant-based vaccines, environmental biotechnology and nanoscale bio-optics and bioscience and will also house about 30 administrative staff until Building B is completed.

The Biodesign Institute, designed to meet the most stringent demands by experimental programs in biotechnology and nanotechnology, plans to accelerate the pace of discovery and innovation. This will require intense collaboration among diverse disciplines, so the open lab design serves a critical function. The building’s interior spatial design also encourages interaction in the central atrium via a monumental staircase linking all floors.

A Flexible Approach

As with most technical projects in high-growth industries, future flexibility of space proved integral. One creative solution, devised for the IGC/TGen project, was an off-site mock-up laboratory in which users could interact with life-sized versions of their research labs. This solution allowed the design-build team to “workshop” with the client to rapidly address criteria and quickly adapt the building for maximum flexibility. The Biodesign Institute’s design also permits rapid reconfiguration of space and equipment to meet the changing demands of the research programs—keeping an eye on future needs.

“Advances in technology are really driving the need for increased flexibility, especially in the biotech and healthcare industries, where procedures and science continue to evolve,” said DPR’s Bart Rogers, the design-build manager for the IGC/TGen project. “With building facilities such as IGC/TGen and the Biodesign Institute, we look at not only what meets current criteria but, as much as possible, also try to anticipate how medicine will be delivered and how science will be conducted in years to come.”

According to Rogers, DPR looks for opportunities to utilize and share the building-delivery processes we already developed on many successful technical projects constructed across the nation. “For DPR, building a 173,000-sq.-ft. design-build project in two years is not all that unique, but for the owner—the City of Phoenix—the Construction Management at-risk design-build approach solved many potential issues,” Rogers said of DPR’s collaboration with architect SmithGroup.