Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center - Robert M. Arnold Building
Architect: Contacts Without Company
The Robert M. Arnold Building on the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center's main campus on South Lake Union culminates a series of projects started in 1988 to unite the center's four dispersed scientific divisions onto one site. Design goals include creation of programmatically integrated facility to foster collaboration between scientists and researchers, while also serving as a 'front door' to campus and accommodating members of the public who participate in cancer-prevention and early detection studies.
Open-concept laboratories increase communication and collaboration between scientific divisions and provide flexibility for researchers' changing space and programmatic needs. In addition to providing state-of-the-art labs, clinics and office space, innovative design elements create a number of community areas for formal and impromptu interaction.
A soaring atrium extends from below grade to the roof, drawing natural light necessary for clinical functions and enhancing the quality of gathering spaces. A helix-shaped staircase and bridge extend through the center of the atrium, enabling vertical and horizontal movement and encouraging interaction between researchers. The building also features a multi-level glass 'prow' that protrudes on the west side, lending panoramic views of Lake Union to meeting spaces and creating a strong visual statement from the exterior. A rooftop terrace with views of the lake and city skyline also provides a dynamic and flexible place for gathering and hosting functions. The building is centrally located on the campus and incorporates a number of casual gathering places, including the 'Consuming Choices' cafe and the 'Ounce of Prevention' coffee bar. Additionally, a first floor level conference center accommodates large and small campus meetings of all types.
From the exterior, a spacious outdoor plaza designates the building as the 'front door' to campus and provides a venue for large outdoor events and activities. The main entrance showcases a water feature of travertine and bronze that contrasts with the building's dramatic angles and spaces.
The building's exterior is primarily brick with glass and steel accents, which blend seamlessly with the palette of the campus. The use of masonry was conducive to the tight scheduling required for punctual building completion and occupancy. Brick panels were customized off-site and shipped as a unit to reduce on-site labor. An expansive curved wall required the creation of custom brick panels. The masonry lends a delicate feel to the mass of the building.