Northwestern to Build Engineering Life Sciences Facility

March 17, 2008

A five-story addition to the Technological Institute will be built to house engineering life sciences programs at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, Northwestern University has announced.

The facility will be a multidisciplinary center of research excellence designed to retain and attract the best faculty in the field of engineering life sciences. Another key feature of the building will be a state-of-the-art analytical laboratory for chemists and others who study and develop new molecules and substances.

The addition, totaling 54,000 gross square feet, will occupy space on the north side of the Technological Institute between the B and C wings, currently a small parking lot. Construction of the new space is expected to begin in June 2009 and be completed two years later. The building will be designed by Flad Architects.

The ground floor of the new building along with some adjoining space in the Technological Institute will be used for the Integrated Molecular Structure Education and Research Center, an improved and expanded version of the existing Analytical Services Laboratory, a facility that provides essential shared instrumentation for the analysis of molecules and materials.

The building's upper floors will provide core laboratory and office space for McCormick researchers whose work emphasizes the life sciences and their relation to engineering. The addition will not include any classroom space.

"During the last decade, at McCormick and across the country, biology has joined physics, mathematics and chemistry as an integral part of engineering," said Julio M. Ottino, dean of McCormick. "As disciplinary boundaries fall, traditional engineering departments have expanded into biological sciences."

Traditional biology-related engineering disciplines are biomedical engineering, environmental engineering and biology components in chemical engineering, but all eight of McCormick's departments have faculty who are involved to various degrees in life sciences engineering. Interdisciplinary areas of research at McCormick include biologically inspired devices, computational biology, bioinformatics, neural engineering, patient safety, rehabilitation engineering, tissue engineering, biologically based materials, biomimetics and sustainability.

These areas are receiving substantial research funding, said Dean Ottino, and are attracting a significant number of students, leading to the need for expanded research facilities at the Technological Institute.