The University of Nebraska Medical School has one of the strongest medical research programs in the country and it intends to keep that growing. The university commissioned the architectural firm of HDR, Inc. of Omaha, NE, to develop a master plan that would support its growing need for additional laboratory support space. The new UNMC Durham Research Center II (DRC II) is a 10-story tower that’s almost a mirror image of the first Durham Research Center (DRC). The prescience of the planners was fortunate as it became evident that the second tower was needed even before construction of the first one was completed in 2003. DRC II was completed in June 2009.
“DRC II houses one of the most technologically advanced research laboratories in the country,” said Chris Barnwell of HDR. “It was important for the towers to reflect their focus on scientific research, but the design also had to fit within the existing campus aesthetic.” The architects responded to the challenge by combining the old with the new. The tower has a traditional brick façade with a grand limestone entryway that gives way to a modern curved curtain wall accented by matching ACM panels. The matching towers are joined at the base with a covered walkway and two-story, shell-shaped atrium designed to serve as an interactive space for university receptions. A striking canopy detailed by accents of Champagne and Platinum ACM panels marks the entry to the atrium.
Architectural Fabricators Company Inc., of Bartlesville, OK, fabricated 12,500 sq. ft. of Reynobond ACM, 6 mm, PE core with a Bright Silver Metallic Colorweld ® 300XL finish for the fascia, soffits, column covers and beam wraps, and 2,200 sq. ft. of Reynobond ACM, 6mm, PE core with a Champagne Metallic Colorweld 300XL finish as accents. SGH Inc., of Omaha, NE, installed the panels in a rout-and-return wet-seal system. Hawkins Construction Co. of Omaha, NE, was the general contractor on the project.
The $74 million DRC II tower houses 95 state-of-the-art laboratories, in addition to office space for investigators and laboratory support space. The tower provides room for more than 250 staff members, including 35 principal investigators who bring in a combined $76.4 million in research funding. Their research is multidisciplinary, grouped around UNMC priority areas, including cancer, biosecurity, cardiovascular diseases, gastrointestinal and liver diseases and organ transplant biology. HDR incorporated sustainable design practices in their plan for the tower in addition to the stringent requirements for the design of medical research laboratories.