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CHOP Breaks Ground for Breakthroughs With New Schuylkill Avenue Research Building
limjr [at] chop.edu (By Jillian Rose Lim)
The skyline alongside Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River will look a little different come 2025, as developers broke ground on the newest addition to CHOP’s family of research buildings, the Schuylkill Avenue Research Building (SARB II) Oct. 12. Standing at 14 stories with 350,000-square feet of space, the state-of-the-art research facility will continue CHOP’s century-long commitment to advancing children’s health through cutting-edge research.
At the groundbreaking ceremony celebrating both the Research Institute’s expansion and the 100th anniversary of its first research lab, hospital leadership gathered with government officials, donors, members of the media, and SARB’s construction partners, the tri-venture team of Gilbane Building Company, Pride Enterprises, and McKissack & McKissack.
In addition to Doug Hock, CHOP executive vice president and chief operating officer, other hospital and research institute leaders also participated in the groundbreaking, including Donald Moore, senior vice president of real estate, facilities, and operations; Joseph St. Geme, MD, physician-in-chief; Susan Furth, MD, PhD, chief scientific officer; Beverly Davidson, PhD, chief scientific strategy officer; as well as Pennsylvania State Representative Jordan Harris.
“This building is an important part of our strategy to advance research at CHOP,” Hock said. “It will make it easier for our teams to collaborate on the bench-to-bedside strategy CHOP is known for. It will help us attract and retain the very best scientists. Scientists will bring us their best ideas, and we will give them the resources they need to turn those ideas into breakthroughs. This building is one of those resources. It will make it possible to translate their discoveries into new treatments to change children’s lives.”
The international architecture firm Cannon Design created SARB’s overall layout to encourage all the components of successful scientific discovery: collaboration, flexibility, and a dynamic nature. Wet labs, where scientists conduct biochemical and molecular studies, will be situated next to dry labs, where researchers analyze data sets, create computational tools, and develop new hypotheses for wet lab studies. The developers hope such a layout will stimulate a more seamless exchange of ideas and communication between wet and dry lab researchers. The building’s total square footage also includes 33,000 square feet of office space and 6,500 square feet of retail space.
Developers hope the latter will promote a greater sense of community in the wider neighborhood, with a number of outdoor spaces for both building employees and individuals in the neighboring residential area, as well as a potential cafe offering with an entrance near the South Street Bridge.
CHOP and its construction partners also prioritized diversity when conceiving of the research facility. For the new building’s development and construction, the team committed to achieving more than 50 percent participation with diverse businesses and suppliers in the region. Pride Enterprises is a local, Black-owned business, and Mckissack & McKissack is the oldest Black-and-women-owned professional design and construction firm in the country.
“We are delighted to work with Gilbane/Pride/McKissack on this project, as we develop a world-class pediatric research campus,” stated Moore in a press release. “This tri-venture is a shining example of CHOP’s commitment to work with diverse suppliers, as we strive not only to expand our research capabilities but also to promote economic inclusion. Philadelphia and the surrounding area have amazing diverse talent that we look forward to working with as we continue to grow our footprint.”
Pennsylvania State Representative Jordan Harris closed the opening remarks of the groundbreaking ceremony with a message of gratitude and hope for the future of children’s health in Philadelphia and the world.
“I am honored and grateful to be here supporting this project,” Harris said. “Thank you for making this healthcare system the world-class system that it is: a world-class system that will help our most valuable resource in our country – and that is our children.”