Open for Business on Broadway
Pinpointing, geographically speaking, the amorphous and far-flung School of Medicine has always been problematic. But now that the $140 million Broadway Research Building, under construction for the past three years, is nearly complete, the School has a bonafide front door at 733 N. Broadway.
The BRB is home to the Institute of Cell Engineering, Institute of
Genetic Medicine and laboratory programs in Comparative Medicine, Medicine
and Basic Sciences. There are also several key core facilities, such
as the vivarium (rodent housing), a Microarray facility and the Proteomics
Center. "The building brings to life the interdisciplinary approach,
as illustrated by the institutes which are based here," says Chi
Van Dang, who as vice dean for research has been involved with the project
from the start. "In bringing together for the first time these
interdisciplinary programs and core facilities, the Broadway Research
Building introduces a whole new period for Hopkins."
As seen from the north, along Madison Street, the building is unremarkable,
but its south facade has an interesting "stepped wedge" shape.
The wedge allows for a landscaped space which leads back and up toward
what is known as "The Object," a sort of glass box, which
houses a coffee shop and a faculty lounge and which links the BRB to
the Ross Building at the third floor level.
Just off Broadway, between the BRB and the Kennedy-Krieger Institute,
a circular drive leads to a drop-off and the ground-level entrance.
The Admissions Office, seminar rooms for the School and for continuing
medical education programs, and the offices of the Clinical Practice
Association are located on this level and connected to ground-floor
space in Traylor/Turner/Ross. Up a flight of stairs, to Level One, the
offices of the Registrar, Student Affairs, Financial Aid, Research Administration,
the five School of Medicine vice deans and the Business Office connect
to the dean's suite in the Traylor Building. These offices moved in
last month. Making the move in December and January are the offices
of the general counsel and Hospital/Health System president.
In all, 31 principal investigators will move their labs onto levels
three through eight. On each of these floors, state-of-the-art laboratories
line the north side and center of the building; suites of offices for
researchers, administrators and staff, the south. Conference rooms are
situated on the east and west ends of the building.
Below ground is the 50,250-square-foot, state-of-the-art rodent facility,
or vivarium. It is so big that it covers more than one acre, and its
main east-west hallway is the length of a football field. Practically
everything-heat, ventilation, water, lights-is controlled and monitored
by computer, and the measures taken to insure that the animals are disease-free
have been remarkable. In fact, all during construction, the joke has
been: Human patients should be so lucky.
With the air and water scrupulously purified, each cage is like a mini-ICU.
Red glass in the vivarium's doors prevents hallway light from disturbing
the animals' circadian rhythms. The rodents are handled under biosafety
cabinets or in portable HEPA-filtered changing stations by people wearing,
at a minimum, booties, gloves, and disposable, sterile gowns. And just
to make sure the facility is entirely safe, 12 breeding pairs of laboratory
mice were brought in to prove they could breed, deliver and raise healthy
Cages are cleaned by two big industrial robots, not unlike those used
to make automobiles. Previously, says Robert Adams, director of Animal
Services, "up to 1,000 pounds of soiled bedding had to be scraped
out of cages, bagged and taken to a dumpster everyday. It's the worst
possible job. We are automating it so that people can spend their time
taking care of the animals."
The Broadway Research Building does introduce a new era, and not just in the interdisciplinary approach that Dang describes. Its completion also signals an intense period of expansion on campus, one that is just beginning.