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02/25/1999 08:00:00

U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum architect to design Caltech's new Broad Center for Biological Sciences

PASADENA—James Freed, the architect who designed the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, has been chosen to design the new Broad Center for the Biological Sciences on the Caltech campus.

Freed, a senior partner of the firm Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, was selected from four finalists to design the building, which is the cornerstone of a $100-million initiative to strengthen Caltech's research efforts in the biological sciences.

The building is named for Eli Broad, chairman and CEO of SunAmerica Inc. and a Los Angeles civic leader and philanthropist. Broad provided $18 million for the building's construction.

David Baltimore, president of Caltech and a member of the committee that selected Freed, said the Holocaust Museum especially shows the architect's genius in designing a magnificent building to benefit society within a well-established neighborhood of other buildings.

"We were impressed by his flexibility and his ability to design a structure that is at once modern and appropriate to a settled architectural style in its surrounding," Baltimore said. "We were also impressed that he could take our very sketchy program and turn it into a fascinating model."

"The work he has done shows a remarkable ability to translate a set of needs into a structure of elegance and clear functionality." Eli Broad said he is "very pleased with the selection of James Freed."

"His functional yet highly creative designs have greatly enhanced many of America's most important metropolitan areas," Broad said. "I have no doubt his design for the Broad Center for Biological Sciences will both reflect and enhance Caltech's heritage of academic excellence, innovation and creativity."

The Broad Center will be located on the northwest quadrant of the campus. Measuring 100,000 square feet, the building will include laboratories and offices for 10 to 12 new research teams, as well as conference rooms, a lecture hall, and a seminar room. The latest modular design elements will be used to allow the greatest flexibility for rearranging labs and offices to accommodate future needs at minimum cost.

The building will house several major new research facilities, including an Imaging Center and a Biomolecular Structures Lab. The Imaging Center will feature powerful new magnetic resonance imagers that, for the first time, will give Caltech scientists the capability to view noninvasively the brains of large mammals and humans while they carry out normal activities such as viewing objects and paying attention. The result will be a deeper understanding of the complex relationship between brain-cell activity and behavior, including the causes of mental illness.

The Biomolecular Structures Laboratory will house state-of-the-art electron microscopes and powerful computational tools for visualizing and analyzing the structures of the multimolecular assemblies critical to the functioning of the immune response and other important biological processes.

The selection committee asked that each finalist discuss his/her approach for making the building blend into the surroundings while at the same time "capturing the essence of modern-day technology," developing a design that would comport with Southern California's seismic code requirements, maintain an open modular concept of laboratory space while incorporating specialized facilities, enhance student and faculty life, and address community concerns for public space.

As design architect, Freed will work closely with the executive architectural firm SMP-SHG, which will be represented by Susan O'Connell as project manager and William Diefenbach as lead architect. The lab programming architectural firm will be Kornberg Associates, with Ken Kornberg as lead architect.


Written by Robert Tindol