Hopkins to break ground on cancer research center


Johns Hopkins Medicine will break ground today on an $80 million research tower that will bring together scientists from many different disciplines who are working to fight cancer.

The 10-story building is a key element in a $1 billion construction campaign that is expected to transform Hopkins' 52-acre East Baltimore medical campus and create up to 1,000 jobs over the next decade.

When complete in May 2005, it will provide laboratory and office space for several hundred scientists and their support staff. The second building at Hopkins devoted solely to cancer research, it is consistent with the institution's tradition of putting research space close to the patients who stand to benefit most.

"We need this new facility to accommodate the steady growth in numbers of our faculty securing gifts or grants to support the fight against cancer," said Dr. Edward D. Miller, dean and chief executive officer of Johns Hopkins Medicine.

"The unraveling of the human genome combined with the explosion in information technology have opened many new approaches in that fight," Miller said. "Fortunately, our scientists have been leaders in transforming our understanding of cancer and almost daily are making new advances against these diseases."

The 272,000-square-foot tower, to be known as Cancer Research Building II, will be built on the north side of Orleans Street between Broadway and Caroline Street. It will stand just west of and be connected to the $59 million Bunting Blaustein Building that opened in 1999 as Hopkins' first structure devoted to cancer research.

One difference between the second tower and the first, officials say, is that the Bunting Blaustein Building provided space for scientists from Hopkins' Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, but the new one will house scientists from other departments who are conducting cancer research, an effort that has become increasingly interdisciplinary. Some will come from elsewhere on campus; others will be hired from outside Hopkins.

"It will put different disciplines together in the same building," said John E. Grinnalds, senior director of facilities management for the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "It creates the opportunity for greater collaboration between the department of oncology and other departments in the school doing cancer-related research."

HDR Architecture of Alexandria, Va., the architect of record for the new project and the Bunting Blaustein Building, designed the second tower to be a mirror image of its neighbor.

Both buildings have been designed to contain five floors of laboratories in the center separated by five levels of mechanical spaces. It's more expensive to create buildings with these "interstitial" mechanical spaces, planners say, but it is easier to modify the laboratories without disrupting research.

Two floors of office space line up with every one level of mechanical and laboratory space, resulting in 10 stories of office space at each end of the building. No researcher will have an office more than one floor from his or her lab. The exterior will be brick in a range of colors taken from buildings on Hopkins' Homewood campus.

The Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Partnership is a design consultant. Clark Construction Group is the construction manager.

Construction money is coming from public and private sources, including philanthropy and debt service. Hopkins has also sought state funds.

Today's 2 p.m. groundbreaking ceremony is expected to draw a number of dignitaries, including Mayor Martin O'Malley, U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes and Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele. Construction is expected to start in May.

To Miller, Hopkins' chief executive, the need for another cancer research building is a sign of the institution's success.

"When the government or private donors help with funding for our infrastructure," he said, "we are better able to recruit talented young scientists, providing an enormous return on investment."

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