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USC’s Michelson Hall Opens in Los Angeles as a New Center for Convergent Bioscience

HOK’s design for the new building brings together scientists and engineers in a startup-like environment that will be a new hub for biotech in the region.

The $185 million Michelson Hall, which officially opened on Nov. 1 on the University of Southern California’s campus, will house the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience. Researchers here will collaborate to speed the development of new drugs, critical diagnostics and biomedical devices from the bench to the bedside.

Excerpted from USC News:

“The scientists and researchers at Michelson Center are in many ways driven by personal passion, and recognize that curiosity-based science is one of the greatest paths toward revolutionizing how we diagnose and treat cancer, cardiovascular disease and neurological issues,” USC Provost Michael Quick said.

The four-story building features the fastest fiber connectivity on campus—100 gigabit— as well as wet labs, research centers, a fabrication lab, offices and conference rooms. The building also features a cleanroom—a dust-free environment for testing products such as nanoscale chips and biomedical devices.

“It is absolutely the most complex research building that we have ever done,” said Joe R. Back, associate senior vice president for USC Campus Development and Facilities. “All the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems that are required for lab work that are not required for other buildings are densely packed into the walls of that building.”

Among Michelson Hall’s distinctions is a series of looming arches and peaked windows—signature features of the collegiate gothic architecture style that is reminiscent of British and New England universities.

Beyond the more than 250,000 handset bricks that wrap Michelson Hall is a modern interior that could be mistaken for a Silicon Valley work environment. A main highlight of the building is the “living room”—an open lounge-like space that has various pods where researchers, if they run into each other at the espresso machine, can sketch their visions and scribble hypotheses on touchscreens, then save their work to the cloud.

The Center is greater than the sum of its parts. “This is meant to create a sea-change of collaborative scientific research across the university,” said Steve Kay, director of convergent biosciences at USC.

Learn more about the Center and its mission in USC’s video.

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