Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia To Open New Research Facility

A facility executive from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia shares details about this project, which is slated for a grand opening in 2025.

new facility
Rendering of the Schuylkill Avenue Research Building. (Contributed by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia)

To build a pediatric research facility for the future, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) broke ground on its new construction for the Schuylkill Avenue Research Building in October. Gilbane Building Company, Pride Enterprises, and McKissack & McKissack will provide construction management services to build the state-of-the-art facility.

The building will be a space for researchers from different disciplines to collaborate and make discoveries that will define the next century of pediatric healthcare. Situated next to the Roberts Center for Pediatric Research, the new 14-story, 350,000-sq. ft. facility will have various spaces designed to encourage scientific collaboration.

The overall layout, created by Cannon Design to be dynamic and flexible, also allows for a variety of outdoor spaces that will engage both employees of the building and the surrounding community. The new facility will enable more foot traffic in the area through parklike spaces and retail space, with the potential for a cafe offering with an entrance near the South Street Bridge. The idea is to create space for the community to gather, providing additional amenities to the surrounding residential area, while also giving employees a broad range of places to meet and collaborate.

To learn more about this project, which is scheduled for a grand opening in 2025, Facility Executive spoke with Donald Moore, Senior Vice President of Real Estate, Facilities and Operations at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Facility Executive: What Inspired This Project?

Donald Moore: The intention behind CHOP’s current facilities expansion is two-fold: an increased focus on and investment in CHOP’s robust research capabilities, and a goal of applying the groundbreaking treatments and discoveries resulting from this research to the patient population. The Schuylkill Avenue Research Building represents a landmark investment in this new frontier of pediatric research.

FE: What Do You Envision A Pediatric Research Building Of The Future To Look Like? 

Moore: With construction of the Schuylkill Avenue Research Building, we are creating the lab space of the future, where researchers from different disciplines can collaborate and make the kinds of connections that lead to amazing discoveries—defining the next century of pediatric healthcare. This building, co-located with the Roberts Center for Pediatric Research, allows us to create a true CHOP research campus, which will be an important theme for us as we consider future expansion.

FE: What Are Some Of The Greatest Challenges You May Face With This Project? How Do You Anticipate You’ll Overcome Them? 

Moore: Some of the biggest challenges will be associated with the ordinary logistics of construction activity. This particular project happens to be flanked by a very active pedestrian and automobile transit bridge, the Schuylkill River that recently flooded into our property, a densely populated neighborhood that is very challenging to navigate through with large construction traffic, an adjacent occupied research center, and a need to have as little negative impact on the occupants of the neighborhood and the adjacent buildings while we build. Good and open communications, being methodical and thoughtful with our building approach, and being respectful of community needs will be very key to successfully overcoming these challenges. Other than that, this is just another complicated construction project, one of many that we’ve successfully navigated before.

FE: What Are You Most Excited For About This New Facility? What Has Feedback From The Community Been Like So Far? 

Moore: The new building will have many spaces that are specially designed to encourage collaboration. For example, “wet” labs (where biochemical and molecular studies are done on benches, or in hoods) will be located adjacent to “dry” labs (where large data sets are queried, new programming language is developed and tested, and new hypotheses for wet lab studies emerge), providing a more seamless experience for our teams.

CHOP has unique approach to community engagement, including ongoing dialogue with neighbors that is reflected in the planning process for all of our facilities. We have a longstanding relationship with the surrounding community established during construction of the Roberts Center for Pediatric Research. We have engaged with this community, which includes near neighbors to the project, members of the local RCO and other that have connections to the community. We also work with our elected officials and city agencies, before and during all phases of Schuylkill Avenue Research Building construction.

Additionally, we set up lines of communication—email address, telephone number and website—for neighbors to contact us about any quality-of-life issues during construction. Overall, the community is excited about this new addition.

FE: What Else Is Important To Know About This Project?

Moore: CHOP’s state-of-the-art facilities make it possible for the best people to do their best work—and create the next generation of medical breakthroughs.

Throughout CHOP, we are focusing on collaborating with diverse suppliers and will be working with Gilbane Building Company, Pride Enterprises, Inc. and McKissack & McKissack on this project. Philadelphia and the surrounding area have amazing diverse talent that we look forward to working with as we continue to grow our footprint.

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