August 27, 2003
by Canadian Architect
Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects and Fichten Soiferman et Associs Architectes in joint venture have designed 740 Docteur-Penfield, a new research facility on the campus of McGill University in Montreal. Four research groups will share the facility, an integral new addition to the McGill University Health Centre. They include McGill University and Gnome Quebec’s Innovation Centre, the Montreal Proteomics Network, the Jamson T.N. Wong Laboratories for Bone and Periodontal Research, and five bio-business incubators.
A three-storey central atrium facilitates easy interaction among the building’s occupants in a design meant to foster cross-generation of research and ideas between traditional disciplines. The concept took inspiration from the world-renowned Human Genome Project, in which genetics researchers located internationally communicated daily in the mapping of the human genome. The massing is composed of a metal-framed glass complex atop a solid limestone base, and capped with a metal-clad penthouse. A series of canted planes, clad with diaphanous mesh scrims control the low altitude afternoon sun that falls on the west side of the building. The window pattern on the west elevation represents an abstraction and random array of the elemental building blocks. This elevation undergoes a transformation in the evening when the window slots are illuminated from within and the pattern is revealed, creating the effect of an architectural genetic code. On the east elevation, a mullion pattern represents a formal plan transparency, where the locations of interior walls and significant laboratory research spaces are projected into the elevation depicting a glimpse of the building’s own formal code. To open officially on September 8, the facility cost $31.5 million and covers 100,000 square feet.