The Wistar Institute, an international leader in basic biomedical research, today broke ground on a major expansion that will ensure its future at the forefront of cancer research and vaccine development.
The Institute announced plans to build a new, seven-story, 89,700-square-foot research tower, which will rise above its current historic facility at 36th and Spruce streets in University City. The project will enable Wistar to expand its research operations, recruit new scientific faculty and pursue collaborative biomedical research in emerging areas of science.
“At a time when biomedical research is advancing at a lightning pace, The Wistar Institute finds itself constrained by aging facilities designed for 19th and 20th century science,” said Wistar President and CEO Russel E. Kaufman, M.D. “We designed our new building specifically to foster interactions between researchers in the kinds of multidisciplinary collaborations that spark innovation and drive results.”
Five of the floors will house laboratories, designed to support team science, an approach that reflects the future of biomedical research. With flexible, open floor plans and next generation equipment and facilities, each laboratory floor will accommodate up to four principal investigators and their laboratory staffs. The scientists, with different yet complementary areas of expertise, will literally come together to collaborate around shared research interests.
These “laboratories of the future”, along with an aggressive plan to complement Wistar’s existing faculty strengths by recruiting up to 10 new faculty members with expertise in promising new areas of biomedical research, will enable the Institute to increase the capacity of every team working on genetics, vaccines and cancer research.
The expansion project will enhance Wistar’s outreach and visibility by creating a new public entrance to the Institute on Spruce Street. In addition, plans call for a 200-seat auditorium for hosting scientific symposia and public events, a soaring glass atrium and inspiring public spaces throughout the building.
The Wistar project also will have a significant regional economic impact. Scheduled for completion in the spring of 2014, the $100 million expansion project will support 380 construction jobs and is expected to create 100 new research and administrative jobs at Wistar in the future.
“This new biomedical research facility, which will create 380 construction jobs, will ensure that Philadelphia remains at the international forefront of cancer research,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “I would like to thank Wistar for its commitment to expanding in Philadelphia and creating more than 100 new, highly skilled jobs. These facilities will attract researchers from around the world and will be a great addition to our city’s thriving medical sector.”
With an eye toward the environment, the expansion project also enables Wistar to increase its energy efficiency by replacing some of its aging infrastructure with new, high-efficiency engineering systems.
Funding sources for the project include an $18 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; a capital campaign; and $55 million in debt financing through Citizens Bank.
“From the days Ben Franklin put a kite into a thunderstorm, to the creation of the modern computer, Philadelphia has been a center of creativity,” said Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett. “It’s gratifying to know that Pennsylvania has given its discoverers a place to work in the form of Wistar’s new research tower.”
In conjunction with the groundbreaking, Wistar announced a five-year, $35 million capital campaign, Building Wistar, Changing the World. Funds raised during a year-long “quiet phase” surpassed the campaign’s halfway mark, with $18.6 million committed to date.
“A hard-working team of volunteers, board members and staff has quietly gotten us to the halfway point of this campaign,” said Wistar trustee Robert A. Fox, chair of the Building Wistar, Changing the World capital campaign. “The most challenging part is yet to come. By entering the public phase of this fundraising effort we are asking for support from the community at large, from everyone who appreciates the impact that Wistar science has had on the world and recognizes its future potential in the new building.”
Project architects and engineers: Ballinger
Construction management: L. F. Driscoll, LLC
Project financing: Citizens Bank
Project support provided by the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Corporation
Note: Architectural renderings of the new Wistar Institute research tower are available here.