Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Building for Personalized Cancer Care

University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, Texas, USA

MD Anderson, one of the leading cancer institutes in the world, embraces the trend towards collaboration among professionals from a variety of disciplines, as well as patients and their families, in order to accelerate developing treatments, and ultimately cures, for cancer. The Zayed Building for Personalized Cancer Care currently houses the Institute for Personalized Medicine and the Pancreatic Cancer Center, but the building is ultimately designed to accommodate and facilitate MD Anderson's reorganization strategy, moving from a departmental to an interdisciplinary structure of programs. 

Next-generation scientists, emerging technologies, and translational cancer research impel a design solution which reinterprets the laboratory building typology. Concentration of functional elements into discrete forms provides a formal expression of a new environment for research and discovery. The building is comprised of four wings that spring from a central hub. Wings are either office neighborhoods or open, generic laboratories. Co-locating scientists from various disciplines in office "neighborhoods" promotes interdisciplinary research, knowledge transfer and an exchange of ideas. The expanse of laboratories allows for flexibility and adaptability over time, and for efficient engineering solutions. The central hub serves as a both a "kitchen" and "living room" with a strong communal focus for the scientist and faculty. A central communicating stair provides vertical integration between floors.

The four segments of the building allow the occupancy to ebb and flow over time. An entire office wing could be converted to "light" dry research space—such as bioinformatics. Laboratory space could be switched to offices and still offer natural light and views. The laboratory layout and support systems are modular for adaptability and reconfiguration. Planning options were generated to illustrate the fluctuation of laboratory support space to open laboratory environments.

The facility was designed and constructed on a fast-track schedule.