University of North Carolina in US opens Genome Sciences Building

14 October 2012 (Last Updated October 14th, 2012 18:30)

The University of North Carolina (UNC) in the US has opened a new Genome Sciences Building (GSB) in Chapel Hill, Orange County, designed by Skidmore Owings & Merrill (SOM).

University of North Carolina Genome Sciences Building

The University of North Carolina (UNC) in the US has opened a new Genome Sciences Building (GSB) in Chapel Hill, Orange County, designed by Skidmore Owings & Merrill (SOM).

Designed as a centre for interdisciplinary research, the eight-storey, 228,000ft² GSB will host over 400 faculty and researchers.

The facility will integrate faculty from the departments of biology, chemistry, statistics and operations research, and computer science to serve as research centre for genomics research.

The building will feature two 450-seat and 250-seat auditoriums and an entire floor of rooftop greenhouses to support research in plant genomics.

SOM said that the building’s brick plinth blends with the university’s traditional Georgian architecture and rises from the sloped site, using the natural topography to hide lower level instruction spaces and mechanical rooms.

The facility will feature landscaped and shaded areas, a ceremonial stair to the classrooms, a cafe and a plaza.

The building’s laboratory portion will rise above the plaza with a concrete glass structure and a skylit oval stair connects each of the floors.

Three laboratory types, which include wet labs, dry labs and rooftop greenhouses, are incorporated in the building.

The three floors on the upper side are organised around three large wet labs covered in open concrete that receive natural daylight through floor to ceiling glazing.

Labs will be orientated in north, east and west directions and will be provided with different exterior fin configurations to prevent unwanted glare and solar heat gain while providing natural light throughout the work spaces.

SOM associate director Peter Van Vechten said, "The building’s porosity and transparency provide connections; between individuals, departments, the larger campus and the natural world."

The building is an integral part of the university’s Bell Tower District master plan, which is also designed by SOM.

Bell Tower master plan transformed a surface parking lot into a crossroads hub, which features improved pedestrian access, a campus green, a parking garage and a renovated campus chiller plant.


Image: The Genome Sciences Building is an integral part of the university’s Bell Tower District master plan. Photo: Skidmore Owings & Merrill.