Education & Science Projects to Watch in 2023

With the ever-changing education landscape and rapid advancements in scientific discovery, designing education and science spaces requires deep technical expertise and creativity. From a research innovation center integrated into an iconic design center to a vertical university campus in the heart of a burgeoning community, and a suite of mass timber buildings realized through Integrated Project Delivery — these upcoming projects play a critical part in creating a better tomorrow.

"These projects represent some of the most forward-looking ideas from our architecture studios throughout HDR—progressing the way we think about research environments and education pedagogies in relation to design," said Design Director Tom Smith. "They are emblematic of our overarching mission to capture institutional visions with idea-driven designs which embrace community and context and are purpose-built for the betterment of the environment."

Here’s a short list of education and science projects with major milestones this year:

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Innovation Center 

West Hollywood, California, USA

Completed earlier this year, the Innovation Center is a cutting-edge research laboratory supporting the work of two principal investigators studying cancer immunotherapy and neuro-degenerative diseases. Initially conceived as non-contiguous commercial showroom spaces, this adaptive reuse project offers a flexible and adaptable laboratory platform allowing for PIs to expand and contract within lab modules over time and for research clusters to overlap to foster conversations among different research groups.

From the design team:

"The completion of the Innovation Center represents an exciting milestone in our ongoing engagement with Cedars-Sinai bringing beautiful, functional lab spaces into the Pacific Design Center. A testament to Cedars-Sinai’s innovative approach to real estate investment and development, these unique labs for team science and multi-disciplinary collaboration are helping them to recruit top-tier scientists and technicians in a very competitive market.”
— Trip Grant, Managing Principal, Los Angeles

"The Innovation Center represents a true achievement in creative lighting solutions because there is literally no natural daylight in the space. The design team used faux skylights with lighting that adjusts in conjunction with circadian rhythms. Based on early feedback from the users, this seems to be a successful solution. When prepping for the photoshoot, we were in the space for eight to ten hours, and I personally still felt a connection to daylight throughout the day, even though I been inside for 10 hours."
— Kenneth Sumner, Project Manager

Read more about the Cedar-Sinai Medical Center Innovation Center

Western Sydney University Bankstown City Campus

Sydney, NSW, Australia

This new vertical, technology-rich campus is designed with flexible and inclusive learning and research environments to make higher education more accessible to the local community. Set to open in 2023, the campus will play an active role in helping the next generation of graduates to gain employment by ensuring students are ‘job-ready’ for the roles on offer in a changing Western Sydney economy.

From the design team:

“Our design meshes education with industry, communities and culture, into a diverse combination of spaces for a distinctly student-centered, collaborative learning experience. We created a sensory, multiverse of learning experiences with diverse space typologies so students and faculty can seamlessly switch between ‘hub’ and ‘home’ flexible learning modes.”
— Alex Wessling, Design Director

“WSU’s mission of investing in students, research and local communities is clearly on display here. The dynamic vertical building is a symbol of investment in the community, a facilitator for industry growth, and enables cross-pollination of ideas and trans-disciplinary innovation. It will be a source of civic pride for Western Sydney for years to come.”
— Graeme Spencer, National Director of Education and Science, Australia

Read more about WSU Bankstown City Campus

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories Science Collaboration Centre

Chalk River, Ontario, Canada

Slated to open later this year, the new science collaboration center represents the culmination of a series of three “new builds” delivered via integrated project delivery on the Chalk River Laboratories campus. The suite of mass timber projects — which also includes the logistics warehouse and supply building — are resiliently designed to reduce long-term carbon emissions on-campus and to accommodate a range of different uses over time. They underpin CNL’s commitment to transforming the Chalk River Laboratories into a modern workplace and becoming more adaptable and responsive to the needs of customers in government, academia and the private sector.

From the design team:

"This project represents the symbiotic relationship between integrated project delivery and design innovation. Until IPD, there hasn’t really been a contractual language that allows us to ask ‘what if?’ But IPD is a contractual model and a way of working together that allowed our entire team — including the client, contractor, architect, engineers, suppliers and many other sub-consultants — to see beyond risk to find opportunity and eliminate redundancies. To this end, we were able to create a mindset for ‘carbon currency’ that helps to push the industry towards the new frontier of mass timber." 
— Donald Chong, Design Principal

“I’m so proud of what our whole IPD team was able to do on the ‘new builds.’ We all embraced collaboration as a way of doing business. In the end, we were able to make a compelling case for mass timber and deliver the project on schedule and with minimal cost increases, even as the industry was seeing hyperinflation and delays. In IPD we feel it is critical the team of designers, builders and the client be made up of the right people with the right knowledge and attitude and most importantly trust. Our team truly had these qualities which resulted in some very big wins for our client and a reminder the amazing ideas come from unexpected places."
— Susan Croswell, Project Principal

Read more about Canadian Nuclear Laboratories