(Co)Laboratory

This project is a laboratory situated in the heart of the Texas Medical Center in Houston, Texas. The architectural strategy attempts to address collaboration as a new kind of programmatic articulation. Due to the nature of contemporary scientific challenges, laboratories can no longer allow individual disciplines to work in isolation. Solutions require the combined expertise of multidisciplinary teams, so the architecture of the laboratory needs to reconsider spaces in terms of exchange and communication. Instead of relying on old models of public space, the laboratory’s relationship to the city should be specified through its principal activity: the collective editing and production of scientific knowledge. By bringing together three proximate institutions—by Rice University, the Baylor College of Medicine, and the Memorial Hermann hospital system—the building generates opportunities for greater scientific contribution.

In this project, collaborative space is defined as an ambiguous architectural zone in which the communication and exchange between multiple constituencies results in the production of knowledge. Unlike public space, which lacks designated program, collaborative space relies on an agenda, and lies somewhere within the continuum between public and private. Although collaboration is essentially unpredictable, architectural strategies can generate viable sites for collaborative activity by allowing for the spatial intersection of multiple user groups.

Collaborative space is defined formally through a technique of vertical spatial overlapping. Each overlap, or loop, represents a different relationship: engineering students/medical researchers, medical researchers/physicians, or engineering students/physicians. These overlaps assume a public workspace program to facilitate collaboration. Some become shared laboratories; others are media centers or auditoriums. Spatially, these areas are of a more public nature; programmatically, they can be either public or private. In each case, however, the neighboring groups share the overlap as both circulation and work space.

Professor: Tei Carpenter