Broad Center for the Biological Sciences, California Institute of Technology
Designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Parteners
Broad Center is a flexible academic facility designed to accommodate virtually every type of biological research that might be undertaken during the building's lifetime, and is adaptable to constantly evolving scientific methods and technologies. In addition to generic laboratories and support spaces, the building houses four major specialized components, including an experimental MRI suite, a high-resolution X-ray diffraction facility, an electronic diffraction facility for studying complex molecular structures, and a vivarium for developmental and neurological research.
Beyond these scientific components, Broad Center houses a variety of semipublic facilities, all of which are accessed from a cross-axial circulation system that penetrates the building, inviting entry from all four sides and weaving Broad Center into its current and future context. The east-west axis deploys visitors to a café, lounges, seminar room and auditorium, while the north-south axis connects important outdoor spaces to the "Great Lawn." Conceived as a bridge as well as a destination, Broad Center occupies a gateway site at the edge of Caltech, the first of approximately ten new buildings that will form the new North Campus.
Exterior materials and massing respect the established character of the southern California school, while reflecting the varied functions housed within. Etched stainless steel wall panels clad the laboratory spaces on three sides; a travertine façade identifies non-laboratory functions on the fourth. A glazed "Light Tower" animates the center of the building with natural light.