UW Today

March 8, 2013

Spring move-in slated for new UW Medicine South Lake Union research building

UW Health Sciences/UW Medicine

Window washers scale the new UW Medicine South Lake Union research building.

Window washers scale the new UW Medicine South Lake Union research building on Dexter Avenue North and Republican Street.Leila Gray

The newest research building at UW Medicine South Lake Union is completed, and is now undergoing commissioning and certification. Several UW biomedical research laboratories will be moving in from April through June.

Occupying the seven-story facility will be lab groups involved in kidney research, vision sciences, immunology, rheumatology, and infectious disease investigations.  These scientists are advancing the understanding of multiple sclerosis, blindness, malaria, lupus, renal failure and many other conditions.

photo of IT carted into SLU 3

IT equipment is carted into the new facilityLeila Gray

The construction is the third stage of development of UW Medicine’s facilities between Dexter Avenue North and Ninth Avenue North and between Mercer and Republican streets.  The Jeffrey and Susan Brotman Building (converted from the former Washington Energy “Blue Flame” building), an administration building and another laboratory building comprise the rest of the present complex.  A companion building, South Lake Union, 3.2, will be built west of South Lake Union 3.1 along the Dexter Avenue North.

The faculty, staff and students relocating to South Lake Union 3.1 will join a dynamic community of scholars. Already at UW Medicine South Lake Union are well-established programs in regenerative medicine and stem cell research, lung inflammation, cancer vaccine development, diabetes and obesity, mitochondrial medicine and several other fields. The move adds 300 to 325 more people to the workday population at UW Medicine South Lake Union, and raises the total to between 1,000 and 1,200.

SLu 3.1 west

The west side of UW Medicine South Lake Union 3.1, seen from the corner of Dexter Avenue North and Republican Street.Leila Gray

“The people who will conduct their research in this building have been deeply involved in its design,” said Dr. John Slattery vice dean for research and graduate education in the UW School of Medicine and professor of pharmacology and of medicine. “As we get to the end of construction they have streamed to visit their new home.

“It is very rewarding to all of us,” he added, “to see how excited they are to move in and put the building to work. Through the process the researchers have come to know one another better, plan their community and interactions and initiate new projects made possible by this facility.  It is wonderful to see – just what we had hoped for.”

Jill K. Morelli, director of facilities for the Office of the Dean of Medicine, defined the purpose of the new building as “100 percent research.” She explained that the move will bring together scientists from different but related fields.

“The new building was designed to facilitate collaboration,” she said. The building has several gathering places for cross-disciplinary conversations. It also has a casual conference room with comfortable furnishings. Morelli called it “the living room of the building.” The building contains two large seminar rooms with videoconferencing capabilities, as well as a lobby and reception desk.“

reception area SLU 31

The reception area in the lobby of the new building awaits finishing touches.Leila Gray

Morelli described the design of the laboratories and their support areas as innovative and creative.

“They are models for the future and a great addition to the School of Medicine’s research portfolio,” she said.

The grounds for the new building will complement the existing inner plaza at UW Medicine South Lake Union.

“The landscaping,”  Morelli said, “will suggest the same sense of calm and quiet in the midst of busy city as does the plaza outside of South Lake Union I and II. “A water feature, crossed by a footbridge, will create the illusion of a stream flowing through the plaza and around a corner of the building . The setting will create an oasis from the intensity of the research endeavors occurring inside the building.”

The front entrance to UW Medicine South Lake Union 3.1 on Eight Avenue.

A construction worker at the front entrance to UW Medicine South Lake Union 3.1 on Eighth Avenue North.Leila Gray

There also are plans for a convenience store staffed by UW Housing and Food Services near the new building. Results of a contest to name the compact-size shop dubbed it Micro[scopic] Market.

The cavalcade of events and celebrations held at UW Medicine South Lake Union, and the free bus shuttles that carry people back and forth from Campus Parkway,  UW Medical Center and Harborview Medical Center a few times an hour, are dispelling the notion that UW Medicine South Lake Union is an island apart from the university. Many lectures take place in the large Orin Smith Auditorium, and several local researchers and national figures have attracted large audiences. Even an enterprising boat company has been ferrying people to and from South Lake Union to a Portage Bay dock on the UW west campus for a small fee.

“The additional videoconferencing in three rooms in the new building,” Morelli said, “will complement those elsewhere on the site and further UW Medicine South Lake Union’s connection to the UW Health Sciences and to the world.

A few building facts:

  • Board of Regents approval April 2010
  • Construction started July 2011
  • Architect:  Perkins+Will
  • Contractor: Sellen Construction
  • Research and research support space:  188,000 gross square feel
  • Total space: 330,000 gross square feet
  • Parking: 266 spaces plus 2 bays in loading dock
  • Cost of construction: $113 million
  • Total project cost: $164 million
  • Project is on time and on budget
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