USC Campus Addition Encourages Collaboration in Cancer Research
The Harlyne J. Norris Research Tower (HNRT), designed by leading healthcare architecture firm Lee, Burkhart, Liu, Inc. (LBL), provides scientists with flexible lab spaces, while fulfilling the mandate to foster collaboration between the university researchers and private industry. HNRT is the third addition to the existing Norris Cancer Center, located within the Health and Sciences campus at the University of Southern California (USC).
“By providing ample amounts of engaging space, HNRT was designed to create a change in the culture of cancer research, to promote partnerships among the university researchers and private-sector professionals,” states Erich Burkhart, AIA, Principal of Los Angeles-based LBL.
Centered on a 10-story circulation core—referred to as the “lipstick” tower due to its slanted glass top—HNRT unites two existing cancer research buildings and acts as a gateway to the proposed future buildings. The biomedical research facility comprises flexible laboratories, a conference center, meditation garden, and double-height lounge areas to promote partnerships among professionals. In contrast to the adjacent buildings that offer fixed labs, HNRT provides laboratories that can be customized to meet the changing requirements of scientists. With moveable casework within the simple grid of the labs, spaces are completely flexible, allowing each generic lab space to be transformed into single or semi-open work areas. Dry labs and wet labs are offered on separate floors throughout the building, and a large freezer lab is available in the basement.
Located at ground-level and central to the building site, a rounded, cast-in-place concrete structure houses an oval conference center. Created to accommodate a variety of meetings of varying sizes, the egg-shaped auditorium encourages interaction among those investigating cancer—the university, researchers, clinicians, and pharmaceutical companies. Clerestory skylights in the tilted ceiling’s center provide natural light from the roof-top plaza that also features meditation and healing gardens. Complete with a variety of outdoor seating and surrounded by lush landscaping, rocks, fountain, and memorial board, the garden offers tranquility and reflection, and provides a casual setting for the exchange of ideas, as well as an outdoor function space for events.
On the west side of the building’s exterior, a stack of well-lit, two-story interaction lounges just out from the building. Floor-to-ceiling glass affords panoramic views of downtown Los Angeles, Griffith Park, and Dodger Stadium. Three pairs of lounges offer pleasant, light-filled spaces outside the laboratory environment for scientists to study or exchange ideas. When lit from within, the column of lounges serves as a “lantern” for evening campus dwellers. The “lipstick” tower is another area outside the laboratories that encourages communication among the professionals. Within the tower, a circular stairwell is highlighted by a “light cannon” at its center that ascends from ground level on up. Notched windows throughout the tower offer additional natural light.
In addition to Burkhart, the LBL team includes Sina Yerushalmi, AIA, Senior Designer; Felipe de Mier, Designer; Daniel Yerushalmi, Project Architect; Tsutomu Sakanaka, Project Architect; Dean St. Clair, Construction Administrator; and the production staff of Column Fu, Jeff Nishikawa, and David Rodrigues. Affiliate firms include KPFF Consulting Engineers, M-E Engineers, GPR Planners Collaborative, and Katherine Spitz Associates. HNRT has already acquired two AIA design awards from the San Fernando Valley and Long Beach/South Bay Chapters.
Lee, Burkhart, Liu, Inc., is fluent in creating innovative healthcare facilities that mix artful vision with technology. Founded in Marina del Rey, CA, by Kenneth Lee, Erich Burkhart, AIA, and Kenneth Liu, AIA, the firm’s mission is to transform the austerity of healthcare institutions into friendly, functional healing spaces, bright with light and humanity, reflective of architecture’s recuperative powers. On-going research, experience, and curiosity have created an in-depth knowledge of healthcare delivery, biomedical research, public policy, and building technology. Notable clients include Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, Kaiser Permanente, University of California, Los Angeles, Stanford University, Tenet HealthSystem, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Cottage Health System.