In an effort to create the pediatric research building of the future, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) has joined forces with Gilbane Building Company, Pride Enterprises, and McKissack & McKissack to construct the Schuylkill Avenue Research Building. The tri-venture Gilbane/Pride/McKissack will provide construction management services to build a state-of-the-art research facility, where researchers from different disciplines can collaborate and make discoveries that will define the next century of pediatric healthcare.
“We are delighted to work with Gilbane/Pride/McKissack on this project, as we develop a world-class pediatric research campus,” said Donald E. Moore, Senior Vice President of Real Estate, Facilities and Operations at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “This tri-venture is a shining example of CHOP’s commitment to work with diverse suppliers, as we strive not only to expand our research capabilities but also to promote economic inclusion. Philadelphia and the surrounding area have amazing diverse talent that we look forward to working with as we continue to grow our footprint.”
Situated next to the Roberts Center for Pediatric Research, the new 14-story, 350,000-square-foot building will have many spaces designed to encourage scientific collaboration. For example, “wet” labs, where biochemical and molecular studies are done on benches or in hoods, will be located adjacent to “dry” labs, where researchers analyze large data sets, create computational tools, and develop new hypotheses for wet lab studies. The idea is to provide a more seamless experience for researchers, which will accelerate the pace of discoveries that will improve children’s health.
The overall layout, created by Cannon Design to be dynamic and flexible, also allows for a variety of outdoor spaces that will engage both employees of the building and the surrounding community. The new facility will enable more foot traffic in the area through parklike spaces and retail space, with the potential for a cafe offering with an entrance near the South Street Bridge. The idea is to create space for the community to gather, providing additional amenities to the surrounding residential area, while also giving employees a broad range of places to meet and collaborate.
“We’re honored to be a part of the CHOP Schuylkill Avenue Research Building, which will be a transformational project for our Philadelphia community and also for the future of pediatric research across the globe,” said Shawn Carlin, vice president at Gilbane Building Company. “We have already begun leveraging the diverse strengths and skills of our tri-venture. Our approach will create a catalyst for business and workforce development that will create lasting positive impact well beyond the completion of this project.”
The tri-venture has committed to achieving more than 50% participation with diverse businesses in the region, in alignment with both the construction management team and CHOP’s commitment to the advancement and inclusion of diverse businesses and people in the construction process. CHOP has worked to increase the diversity of its suppliers across the board, achieving 90% diverse participation in its recently launched Center for Advanced Behavioral Healthcare at 4601 Market Street in West Philadelphia and between 20-35% diverse participation in the construction of its new patient tower, a target the institution hopes to exceed by identifying a reliable pipeline of work opportunities that diverse contractors can begin preparing themselves for.
“Pride Enterprises is excited to be a part of the team delivering this landmark project for CHOP,” said Craig Williams, president at Pride Enterprises. “As a local, Black-owned business, our involvement will greatly impact our growth and development in the life sciences space, as well as expand and deepen our relationships with Gilbane, McKissack and CHOP.”
“As a parent, I know firsthand the benefits of a world class pediatric research facility,” said Dean R. Robateau, executive vice president at McKissack & McKissack, the oldest Black- and women-owned professional design and construction firm in the United States. “We’re excited to help bring this cutting-edge project to life alongside two quality companies. Gilbane and Pride share both our passion for mentor/protege partnerships and our commitment to building and fostering relationships with emerging firms in the city of Philadelphia.”
Together, the tri-venture and CHOP have also prioritized community engagement as construction gets underway.
“In setting an ambitious goal with a clear plan for success, CHOP has signaled to the market that diversity is imperative moving forward,” said Harold T. Epps, co-chair of Philadelphia Anchors for Growth and Equity (PAGE) and former Director of Commerce for the City of Philadelphia. “With projects like the Schuylkill Avenue Research Building, CHOP is paving the way for a paradigm shift in the way minority-owned businesses engage in the construction industry, presenting a model for the way responsible institutions should use their purchasing power to build a more equitable Philadelphia.”
Construction on the new building comes as CHOP celebrates the 100th anniversary of its first research lab and demonstrates how far pediatric research at CHOP has come over the past 100 years – from the first lab in a single room in the hospital’s basement to the construction of a best-in-class research building that will establish a full-fledged pediatric research campus in Philadelphia. The growth over the past century is a testament to CHOP’s enduring commitment to discovery and innovation, which has advanced and transformed pediatric healthcare.
Groundbreaking on the Schuylkill Avenue Research Building took place in October 2022, with a grand opening scheduled for 2025.