Project category: New construction (completed May 2007)

Chief administrator: Peter Jones, PhD, DSc, USC/Norris Cancer Center, (323) 865-0816

Firm: Lee, Burkhart, Liu, (310) 829-2249

Design team: Erich Burkhart, AIA, Principal-in-Charge; Zeke Triana, AIA, Project Manager; Sina Yerushalmi, AIA, Senior Designer; Tsutomu Sakanaka, Project Architect; Daniel Yerushalmi, Project Architect; Dean St. Clair, AIA, Construction Administrator

Photography: Shimahara Illustration

Total building area (sq. ft.): 185,000

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $411

Total construction cost (excluding land): $76,000,000


This new 10-story biomedical research facility is located adjacent to a comprehensive cancer center in the heart of the University of Southern California's Health Sciences campus. It is linked to two existing research laboratories, and that linkage gives form to the massing of the facility.

The primary function of the building is to provide “incubator laboratory” space that creates opportunities for collaboration between the University and private industry in the development of new treatment therapies and modalities, while shortening the “bench to bedside” interval.

The massing of the facility is centered on a ten-story “lipstick” circulation core, which provides a central pivot point. The new laboratory is linked from there to two existing research laboratories that collectively make up the comprehensive cancer center. The base of the “lipstick” core includes public spaces and a conference center, which is in turn topped with a roof garden and meditation garden.

The building houses a variety of wet and dry bench research programs, shared core laboratories, administrative spaces, and a conference center. The individual research laboratory modules were designed to provide maximum flexibility because of frequent changes in research programs, investigative focus, and grant funding. This flexibility is achieved by using large, open research bays, moveable/modular casework, and common utility “wet” walls and shafts. Repetitive core laboratories utilize an interchangeable planning module that allows individual floors to be customized.

To encourage the exchange of ideas and collaboration, two-story interaction lounges cantilevered off the building's south façade are provided. The lounges link two floors together and offer a space outside the laboratory environment for investigators to informally meet.