Leonard and Madlyn Abramson Pediatric Research Center

The opening of the Leonard and Madlyn Abramson Pediatric Research Center in 1995 represented the beginning of a new era of accomplishment for The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute. The facility represented a 10-fold increase to the space more than doubled the space available for scientific discovery at Children’s Hospital.

Today, approximately 600 employees, including senior and junior investigators, technicians, assistants, support staff, fellows, and students, work in the Abramson Research Center conducting a variety of basic and translational research. Areas of investigation include genetics and genomics; cell, gene, and stem cell therapy; vaccines; immunology; oncology; cardiology; cell biology; fetal research; pharmacology; developmental biology; defective proteins; the neurosciences; metabolism and nutrition; infectious diseases; hematology; child health services; and pediatric injury, among many other fields.

Ellenzweig Associates Inc., of Cambridge, Massachusetts, designed the building using a nontraditional approach. Unlike most buildings, where exterior concerns lead the design, architects first considered safety and space issues, designing from the inside out. The 590,000-square-foot, 13-story structure houses nine floors of laboratories for basic research, a conference center, a cafeteria and two levels of underground parking, with more than 350,000 square feet of the building’s total space being devoted to research. The building’s innovative design received the Boston Society of Architects/AIA and the New England Healthcare Assembly Honor Award for Laboratory Design.

Each of the nine floors houses up to 11 laboratory modules. A module includes laboratory space plus an equal amount of support space, including rooms for special procedures and equipment. This flexibility allows units to be adjusted to fit the changing needs of occupants.

Many of the laboratory floors feature a core facility that provides key equipment, such as gene sequencing, protein identification, microscopy, and nuclear magnetic resonance imaging. This allows major pieces of equipment to be shared easily and efficiently, as well as providing sophisticated and convenient services to researchers.

The Abramson Pediatric Research Center was designed to encourage multidisciplinary research and collaboration among scientists from various research disciplines. Informal lounge areas, for example, are located on each floor to encourage interaction among research staff.

The exterior of the Abramson Research Center is made of curtain wall, or sections of plate glass and metal panels, precast concrete, and granite. Both aesthetic and energy concerns guided the selection of these materials.

The Abramson Research Center and the Colket Translational Research are connected via a pedestrian bridge. Both are within walking distance to the Market Street facilities, as well as being adjacent to the University of Pennsylvania campus and its School of Medicine research buildings. This proximity allows for interchange and collaboration, as well as shared facilities.