Forsyth Laboratory Expansion

Forsyth Laboratory Expansion

|   Boston MA
Overview: The Forsyth Institute is one of the world’s preeminent centers for oral and craniofacial biology and related biomedical sciences. Founded in the Fenway district of Boston in 1910, the Forsyth Institute occupies a distinguished neoclassical building with later additions dating from the 1960’s, and is located directly across the street from the Museum of Fine Arts. This invited competition focused on expanding the existing 125,000 sf clinical and research building with a new research facility of approximately 80,000 sf and underground parking for 450 cars on open land directly adjacent. The client was interested in exploring how a state of the art research facility would connect and unify the existing facilities while also fitting into the highly sensitive context of the Fenway District.

The inspiration for our design reflects the history of discoveries and advancements made by the scientists and clinicians who have worked cloistered away behind the monumental walls of the Institute for over 90 years. Our proposal opens the Forsyth Institute to the outside world by introducing a high level of transparency in the new laboratories and inviting the outside landscape to flow into the center of the building. The laboratories are arrayed in two splayed arms that capture a multi-level landscaped public space, which is the focus of interaction and communication among the buildings users. The complexities of the site and context create a different set of conditions to be reconciled on each side of the new building:

The north side faces the Fenway parklands and connects directly to the 1910 neo classical facade of the existing Forsyth Institute. The new building extends the proportions, materials, and rhythm of the original, while reinterpreting the formal vocabulary in a modern tectonic with much greater transparency.

The west side faces more monumental conditions created by the Museum of Fine Arts buildings and tree-lined Avenue Luis Pasteur. Here the building enters into a dialog with the grand museum and street by utilizing large scale building elements and a very high level of transparency that extends clear back to the original Forsyth building through an open, multilevel atrium.

The south side faces Hemenway Street, which is distinctly residential and pedestrian in scale. The building continues the theme of transparency, but the facade elements are adjusted to relate to the scale of a narrower street and sidewalk environment. The scheme also proposes facade modifications to improve the appeal of the existing 1969 modular concrete facade, which currently stands as a blank and un-engaging wall to the street.

The east side interfaces with the existing Forsyth buildings, where it aligns and extends existing circulation systems in order to maximize connectivity and transparency between old and new.

Forthsyth Institute
80,000 SF
$26M (estimated)
Chris Iwerks served as Design Principal while with Shepley Bulfinch