A modern glass box with fluid ribbons has the cutting-edge look of a tech giant’s office, but in actuality it houses the latest addition to the burgeoning medical campus of the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo. The Gates Vascular Institute and UB Clinical Translational Research Center is the brainchild of L. Nelson (“Nick”) Hopkins III, M.D., a renowned neurosurgeon who, as it turns out, also has an eye for architecture. He admired a lab building that Mehrdad Yazdani—who heads a studio in Cannon Design’s Los Angeles office—had just completed on campus, toured it, and ultimately commissioned a modestly scaled building for the Jacobs Institute, which he established to foster research. As a lead surgeon for Kaleida Health and the chairman of Neurosurgery at SUNY Buffalo, he brought those institutions on board and the project scope expanded to a nearly half-million-square-foot, 10-story building.
“Nick wanted a place where different disciplines would collide and interact, and that idea drove the design,” says Yazdani. “It was new territory for the studio and our naivety allowed us to question accepted wisdom and push the envelope.”
Outline of the building program
Known for his expressive architectural forms, Yazdani put his bold signature on this cube, wrapping it on two sides with fritted glass that captures the spirit of energy and innovation. Baffles shade the glass curtain wall to the east and west to control heat transfer while admitting natural light. The flowing ribbons on the exterior convey a futuristic feel, but they also allude to the study of vessels, appropriately.
Inside, the architects maximized flexibility by adopting a module of 31 feet 6 inches square by 18 feet high, which are ideal dimensions for labs and procedure rooms, and situating the service core to one side to allow floor plates to be reconfigured as needed.
Kaleida, considered the largest healthcare provider in western New York, occupies the bottom four floors to tend to patients: the first floor for emergencies and urgent care, and the next three for surgery and outpatient recovery. The upper five floors house medical labs, lecture theaters, meeting areas, and the Jacobs Institute, which promotes social interaction, research, bioengineering, and new business incubation.
The Institute’s three-story lobby is a dramatic entry but also a social condenser. A wood-clad suspended cube breaks up the volume at one end, and identifies a warm, enclosed space for waiting family members. This second level is treated as a hotel for outpatients in recovery and is linked by a bridge to Buffalo General Hospital, just 100 feet away. To mark the point of transition from the new building to the existing Buffalo General Hospital, a suspended screen of fiberglass-reinforced gypsum is sculpted into a lattice pattern inspired by imagery of MIT’s stem-cell experiments. Curvilinear elements, such as bench and lounge seating, as well as millwork details, enhance the fluid quality of a building that brings the medical science community together.
Granting individualism while unifying
The design team faced the challenge of mastering the complexities of the program and integrating the varied elements, while making the building feel welcoming, even in the deep-freeze of a Buffalo winter. Multilevel atria enliven the interior, and identifiable “neighborhoods” for each activity are connected by shared zones.
Taking cues from the white glass wrapper and the ribbed concrete base of the building, Dale Greenwald, an interior designer from Cannon Design’s New York office, gave each occupant group a sense of place, while striving for unity within individualism. “We were able to achieve a consistency from outside to inside,” says Greenwald.
Textured fiberglass-reinforced wall panels echo the concrete, and the terrazzo floor tiles provide a consistent, smooth surface that mirrors the glass. These high-performance resinous finishes are also essential for withstanding intensive use and traffic. Bold color accents identify the four quadrants of emergency care, employing backlit-resin panels attached to Corian counters. As one moves from public to private space, colors become more subdued. On the fifth floor, the glass that encloses private offices and conference rooms is etched at its top and base and washed with changing colors from LEDs.
Hopkins is more than pleased with Cannon Design’s solution for his unique program. “It’s a first-of-its-kind center,” he says. “It’s changing the paradigm of vascular care delivery and research, and it’s a forum for innovation and industry collaboration at the heart of a clinical facility.”
Key Design Highlights
Curvilinear architectural elements and furniture details connect the building’s exterior to the interiors.
As identifiers for the four quadrants of the emergency care zone, bold color was applied to nurse stations composed of backlit-resin panels and Corian counters.
A “collaborative oasis” on the fourth and fifth floors, between patient care and research floors, contains education, catering, and conference facilities linked by multiple-height atrium spaces where clinicians, scientists, and entrepreneurs can meet.
The crisp neutral colors of the exterior—white metal, concrete, and gray—are continued throughout the interior.
acute care winner
Designer Cannon Design
Client Kaleida Health
Where Buffalo, New York
What 476,500 square feet on 10 floors
Architect and interior designer
: Cannon Design.
Architecture project team
: Mehrdad Yazdani, design principal; John P. Hall, AIA, project principal; Frank V. Sica, AIA, project manager; Craig Booth, senior designer; Alek Zarifian, AIA, senior designer; David C. Sass, healthcare planner; Mark Whiteley, laboratory planner; Chip Berry, mechanical engineer; John R. Boekelman, AIA, structural engineer; Peter McClive, electric engineering.
: Dale Greenwald, Assoc. AIA, interior design principal; Christine A. Soto, ASID, interior designer.
: LP Ciminelli; Turner Construction Company.
: Atelier Ten; Cannon Design.
: Cannon Design (mechanical, electrical, structural); DiDonato Associates (civil).
: Benjamin Moore; Scuffmaster; Sherwin-Williams; Texton.
: 3Form; Construction Specialties; Corian; Formica; LaminArt; Trespa; Wilsonart; Zodiaq.
: Hommann + Barnard, Inc. (masonry); Modernfold (movable); RPP (lead lined drywall); USG (dry).
: Dura-a-flex (resilient); Forbo (resilient); General Polymers/Sherwin-Williams (resilient/resinous); Wausau Tile (hard).
: Lees Carpet; Patcraft-Designweave; Scott Group; Shaw. Ceiling: Armstrong; Ceilings Plus; Decoustics Limited.
: Edge Lighting; Forum; Kurt Versen; Mark Architectural Lighting; Pinnacle Architectural Lighting; Pure Lighting; Visa Lighting.
: Bega; Kim Lighting; Voight Lighting.
: Best; McKinney; Ortise Locks; Pemko; Rockwood; Sargent; Stanley.
: Archetype Glass (decorative); McGrory Glass (decorative); Skyline Design (decorative); Viracon (architectural).
: Colvin Draperies.
: Arcadia; Cabot Wrenn; Harter; Herman Miller; Knoll; Krug; Versteel.
: Architex; CF Stinson; KnollTextiles; Maharam; Momentum Group.
: Beau Bois.
: Acorn Engineering; American Standard; Brass Craft; Chicago Faucets; Church; Dearborn Brass; Elkay; Gerber; Guardian; Mustee; Powers; Sloan; Symmons.