The Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto brings together 2000 researchers, trainees and staff previously dispersed throughout six buildings. At 778,000 sq ft (72,354 sm), the 21-storey laboratory designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects is believed to be the largest child health research tower in the world and among the largest laboratories in the high-rise form.
Situated on a dense urban site, the building is a centre of excellence for SickKids to further its commitment to advancing paediatric research. “With state-of-the-art laboratories, learning facilities and multi-level interactive spaces, the entire building is designed to enhance collaboration and interaction,” said Donald Schmitt, Principal, with the design firm.
Six thematic research neighbourhoods each have open two- and three-storey collaborative spaces connected by stairs. These working lounges have kitchenettes, white boards, soft furnishing and incomparable views of the city through glazing with high transparency. These innovative and dramatically arranged spaces provide gathering points where scientists, clinicians and students can share information and fuel innovation across 17 floors of dedicated lab space. The curvilinear form of the stacked bay windows differentiates these spaces as a defining feature of the façade and the curvilinear form continues inside to create a dynamic hub space.
Other features of the building include a learning concourse, intent on bringing ‘science to the street’ so the public can see medical research activity in progress; administrative offices, lobby and retail space, a 250-seat auditorium, break out meeting rooms, conference rooms, public areas and two floors of below-grade parking.
The Gilgan Centre takes a whole-building approach to sustainable design and despite the heavy process load requirements typical of any laboratory, this building is certified LEED Gold. The building design incorporates numerous energy-saving and water-use reduction programs. A high performance glazed enclosure has graduated frit for thermal control and maximum daylight harvesting. The colour patterning of the building’s glass panels creates a mosaic design that contrasts the clarity of the vision glass in the bay windows and the three-storey learning concourse. These visual references distinguish the centre and reinforces the Hospital’s role in the city and on the city skyline.