Next-Gen Medical Research Facilities Rethink Foot Traffic

Brigham Building For The Future

Since breaking ground in 2013, Boston’s Brigham Building For The Future is a project that has been turning heads around the medical property community for its unusual approach to specialization and foot traffic.  The 11-story, 620,000-square foot project is located on the campus of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the city’s Longwood Medical Area and will house nine floors of medical research with two floors of medical clinic area.

A major premise behind the research building design according to architect NBBJ is to support what’s called translational research — a modern conception of scientific research that, in short, makes immediate bridges from the scientific work to the practical applications.

What’s New In Space Allocation

Traditionally, most medical research takes place in spaces separate from clinical spaces.  An invention or innovation in medical care can take years to develop and further years to be applied to patients. Translational research is a way to radically shorten that extra time by quickly “translating” findings in basic or pure research into meaningful health outcomes.

The building design that supports translational research is one that intentionally mixes foot traffic flows.  From a property management standpoint, the usual medical office principles of space specialization are turned on their head: the intent is to put researchers and doctors in the same spaces, the same hallways, the same atria, the same conference rooms.

NYU’s 227 E. 30th St.

Exemplifying the trend is another early adopter in New York.  New York University’s Langone Medical Center’s Translational Research Building.   Stressing the integration of space users of both medical/clinical and research purposes, the building houses a great deal of “dry lab” research space — labs that more resemble traditional office space in that the bulk of the work is done on electronic or computer equipment and not “wet” test benches with flasks and bunsen burners.

Patients Included

As health care continues to evolve in the US, the responsibility levels of both providers and patients for improving outcomes is on the rise.  Because US health care costs too much and produces too few positive health outcomes when compared with other world democracies, it follows that health care needs to become a smarter conversation and collaboration between patient, researcher and doctor.  By rethinking clinical space, translational research spaces facilitate these conversations uniquely.  At the same time, they provide efficiencies of space that the entire industry is seeking, expressed in waves of medical office consolidations.  Expect to see more of these kinds of translational research medical properties in all markets as US health care continues to evolve and improve.

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