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CHOP To Build 250K SF Cell And Gene Therapy Research Center East Of Schuylkill River

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's Roberts Center for Pediatric Research will soon see a sister building rising just to the right of it in the above photo.

Philadelphia's construction pipeline for lab space targeting gene and cell therapy is swelling again.

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is set to start ground-up construction on a 290K SF research facility, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. In August, CHOP selected a construction manager and secured neighborhood approval for the building, which will share a site with the Roberts Center for Pediatric Research across the Schuylkill River from the venerable hospital's main campus in University City.

Named the Schuylkill Avenue Research Building (unless and until a donor pays for naming rights), CHOP's new project will be used to expand the institution's academic research in cell and gene therapy, which has already produced the gene therapy industry's biggest success story to date: Spark Therapeutics, which spun off from CHOP in 2013.

The building's 250K SF research component will be supplemented by 33K SF of office space and a 6,500 SF eatery or café, the Inquirer reports.

At 12 stories tall, SARB is designed to look quite similar to the Roberts Center, albeit darker and with more variety in its facade to be less dangerous to birds, the Inquirer reports. SARB will also be smaller and less dense with workers than Roberts, a main reason why CHOP isn't adding any more parking spots in this phase.

When building Roberts in the early 2010s, CHOP already knew that a second building on the Schuylkill Avenue site was in the works at some point in the future, so it already built the below-ground portion. That will allow a somewhat accelerated timeline, with occupancy slated for spring or summer 2025, according to a presentation CHOP and project architect Cannon Design gave to the South of South Neighbors Association in August.

As CHOP plans to fill the new building with in-house research, occupancy won't depend on the growth of private companies, as is the case with much of the current and planned life sciences construction in Philadelphia.