Contact Us

10 Of The World's Most Gorgeous Research Centers

    10 Of The World's Most Gorgeous Research Centers

    Research centers and labs invoke the image of a squat concrete building, inside the rooms are riddled with wires, white tiles and sterile sections (maybe in black and white, a crazy-haired professor writing on a chalkboard somewhere). These buildings are built for utility, not a pretty façade.

    But over the last few years we're seeing a new breed of research center. Larger, taller and visually unique, these 10 research centers are stimulating to the eye as well as the mind. 

    1 of 11

    Cornell Tech Campus

    Location: Roosevelt Island, New York City

    SF: 650k when it opens in 2017, 2M when fully built in 2043

    Architect: Morphosis, Weiss/Manfredi Architecture, Handel Architects

    Design feature: "Passive construction"

    Scientific purpose: Multi-disciplinary tech research

    Using a new European method that claims to cut energy costs up to 90%, NYC's new "Silicon Island" is being built to solve modern tech problems from a dual approach, melding both industry and academia.

    These 272.5k SF dormitory towers are being developed by both the Hudson Cos and Related Cos and will be the first high-rise in the world to use passive temperature control. The system features special materials, insulation and a German-designed ventilation system, keeping the complex's interiors at a cool 55 degrees Fahrenheit with little power use, even during the winter. The design saves the campus' towering residential units 882 tons of CO2 a year.

    2 of 11

    Interdisciplinary Science Building for Energy Research at Brookhaven Lab

    Location: Upton, NY

    SF: 87.7k

    Architect: Flad Architects, Madison

    Design feature: Floor-to-ceiling glass, humidity-controlled "dry rooms"

    Scientific purpose: Interdisciplinary energy research

    This hub for energy research provides customized laboratories, where scientists can engineer and optimize powerful and efficient batteries, biofuels and solar panels to tackle America's pressing energy and environmental challenges.

    Boasting 60 standard laboratories, four specialty labs with unique features and a humidity-controlled "dry room," where researchers can safely test new lithium-ion batteries, the space also has conference spaces for collaboration among scientists from the facility and the other research centers within walking distance.

    Keeping with its green theme, the building was designed with sustainability and energy efficiency in mind, reducing water use by 55% and energy consumption by 37%. The facility was even built with certified environmentally sustainable wood, recycled materials, and local materials to reduce carbon footprint. 

    3 of 11

    ALBA Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory

    Location: Catalonia, Spain

    SF: 246k

    Architect: Eduardo Talon Curtis, Alfons Perdrix Riau

    Design feature: Spiraling "parcel polygon" (flying saucer)

    Scientific purpose: Particle research

    Don't worry, it's not a UFO, just a synchrotron (duh). Although round and silver, Eduardo Talon and his project team compared the building to "a shell embedded in the ground." The Laboratory has a diameter of 140 meters, and even has energy-producing workshops underground. 

    The synchrotron—or particle accelerator—uses an electron cannon to emit an initial beam of particles accelerated to nearly the speed of light. Once they reach high speeds and energies, the particles are confined to a ring, moving about for hours and emitting intense light on a variety of wavelengths. The energy emitted by the ring is then used by other research workstations.

    4 of 11

    The Ray and Maria Stata Center for Computer, Information and Intelligence Sciences

    Location: Cambridge, MA

    SF: 430k

    Architect: Gehry Partners

    Design feature: Funky angular façade

    Scientific purpose: Computer, information and intelligence research

    Built on the site of MIT's legendary Building 20—a "temporary" timber-framed building constructed during World War II that saw many world-famous discoveries—the Strata Center was designed by world-renowned architect Frank O. Gehry and is meant, according to MIT, to carry on Building 20's "innovative and serendipitous spirit."

    Featuring bizarre angles and towers, the Center is certainly one of the most unique-looking research centers on this list. In fact, when the building opened in 2004, the building received both praise and criticism. In the Boston GlobePulitzer Prize-winning critic Robert Campbell called the building "a work of architecture that embodies serious thinking about how people live and work, and at the same time shouts the joy of invention."

    The Center houses the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (LIDS) and the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy. (Yes, we know, one of these things is not like the others.)

    5 of 11

    The Thomas J. Watson Research Center

    Location: Yorktown Heights, NY

    SF: 1.675M

    Architect: Eero Saarinen

    Design feature: Pavilions connected by skybridges

    Scientific purpose: Computing and programming research

    The IBM HQ—on a private plot not accessible to the public—has the same namesake as IBM's Jeopardy-playing computer, Watson. The building's glass-crescent profile has three levels of 40 "aisles" each, radiating out from the center. Because of its unique construction, none of the Center's offices have windows, and its lowest level is partially underground. In addition to a library, an auditorium and a cafeteria, the Watson houses researchers for everything from speech recognition software to semiconductors

    6 of 11

    South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute 

    Location: Adelaide, Australia

    SF: 269k

    Architect: Bisnow partner Woods Bagot

    Design feature: Triangulated "dia-grid" facade

    Scientific purpose: Health and medical research

    Working with the South Australian government, Woods Bagot gave SAHMRI a pine cone-inspired façade that not only responds to the sun like a living organism, but becomes an articulated sunshade. The façade is also transparent, showcasing two of the Institute's internal atria and inspiring and promoting the building's functions. 

    The institute—which has nine research modules and can house up to 700 researchers—brings clinicians and researchers together to foster innovation in the health industry, leading to improved health outcomes for the whole community. It's also LEED GOLD certified, something the SAHMRI design and construction team worked diligently and collaboratively to deliver.

    To learn more about our Bisnow partner, click here.

    7 of 11

    New York Genome Center

    Location: New York City

    SF: 170k

    Architect: Elkus-Manfredi Architects

    Design feature: Landscaped roof terraces, 20% of material is recycled

    Scientific purpose: Genome research

    Stationed over 170k SF at 101 Avenue of the Americas, the $53M Genome Center sits right at the intersection of the SoHo, Tribeca and Hudson Square neighborhoods. In addition to an open-plan bioinformatics floor, The Center boasts sequencing, bioinformatics and research labs, a CLIA-certified laboratory that processes clinical samples, and enough computing infrastructure to process and store large amounts of research. Combined with rooftop terraces, the researchers at the Center get quite the environment for curing diseases.

    8 of 11

    The Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies, Sandia Labs

    Location: Albuquerque, NM

    SF: 96k

    Architect: HDR

    Design feature: Multicolored paint job and environmentally friendly building materials

    Scientific purpose: Nanotechnology

    Designed to foster a publicly accessible, cross-disciplinary research environment for the US' nanoscience community, the Core Facility for CINT has three wings—a cleanroom wing, a physical/chemical/biological synthesis wing, and a characterization wing—and a flexible lab design. And with social areas, conference rooms, office space and high-speed Internet, the facility helps encourage cooperation and collaboration between all its visitors.

    The Core Facility also has some pretty impressive equipment, including a transmission electron microscope, electron beam lithography, a reactive ion etcher and ultra-fast lasers. It's also LEED certified, with its efficient water and landscape management plans, green construction materials (47% of the facility is made of recycled materials, 20% of which is locally manufactured). Even the paints, sealants and carpets are environmentally friendly.

    9 of 11

    European Southern Observatory HQ

    Location: Garching, Germany

    SF: 45.9k

    Architect: Hermann Fehling and Daniel Gogel

    Design feature: Overlapping circles

    Scientific purpose: Astronomy

    Opened in 1981, 10 years after the ESO's founding, the building is primarily defined by the lack of corners and was designed around the concept of an imaginary square that could be placed around the center of the building so that the four corners mark the center of four circles of different diameters. A library, conference rooms and a large entrance area are stationed in the building's center surrounded by branching paths and hallways leading to all the other rooms.

    10 of 11

    The University of Arizona Health Sciences Education Building

    Location: Phoenix, AZ

    SF: 265k

    Architect: CO Architects

    Design feature: A Canyon design

    Scientific purpose: Health Sciences

    Located on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus (PBC), the HSEB creates an interesting hybrid of the school's urban locale and desert environment. Much of the design—including the building's site and its type of fenestration and cooling systems—was informed by the reduced energy needs of the Arizona climate.

    The facade, as you can probably tell, was inspired by Arizona's canyon formations, using bent, fissured, pressed and perforated copper sunscreens to protect the exterior building enclosure from direct sunlight. 

    The building includes classrooms and state-of-the-art facilities, including simulation laboratories, gross anatomy facilities, pre-clinical training, a learning resource center, student services and a faculty office administrative space.