Rice University commissioned the BioScience Research Collaborative (BRC) to enable the Texas Medical Center’s researchers and physicians to partner with Rice’s scientists and engineers on bioscience and biotechnology research.
Cardno was part of the design team, providing structural engineering services for the 477,000-sf, 10-story BRC. The base houses a vivarium, auditorium, seminar room, classrooms, retail, and three levels of underground parking. Eight floors of research labs top the base. A cylindrical element, the “collaborative hub,” attached to the research tower serves as the center of intellectual exchange. Each floor of the hub is open in plan with student workstations, a double-height lounge, and an open staircase. Two stories of shell space on top of the tower allow for easy growth. The base platform is designed to hold a second research tower.
The design team responded to an accelerated schedule by delivering the excavation package at 50 per cent schematic design. The foundation package for the building was completed at the beginning of design development, requiring close coordination among the team. The deep excavation of the sub-grade parking required a soldier pile foundation around the project site perimeter, comprised of 450 reinforced 30-inch piles. The building structural system is a cast-in-place concrete frame. Designers gave special consideration to vibration sensitivity for the lab floors, plus the heavy loading requirements of the laboratory mechanical system.