March 29, 2018

Wayne State University Integrative Biosciences Center: Urban Health Research


In June 2015, the doors opened to the Wayne State Integrative Biosciences Center. What once was a 100-year-old Albert Kahn Cadillac dealership is now a state-of-the-art multidisciplinary biomedical research facility. Experts in environmental science, bio and systems engineering, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma and behavioral health come together to work side-by-side in this innovative structure.

This Detroit facility is dedicated to studying and eliminating the health issues that plague residents of the city and surrounding areas. Features include a 40-foot-high concourse lined with meeting rooms and labs with floor-to-ceiling glass partitions. The research laboratories, wet and dry labs and vivarium space provide a collaborative environment for scientific advancements. Wayne State envisioned a new approach to the study and research of urban health issues. With a committed partnership between the university and project team, the vision came to fruition with the completion of IBIO.

Collaboration from Start to Finish

The design of the 205,000 sf facility focused on creating a collaborative environment for scientific research. WSU engaged Harley Ellis Devereaux (HED) as its design partner and Barton Malow Company and L.S. Brinker Company (Barton Malow/Brinker) as its joint venture construction manager. The collaboration theme resonated early with this project team which was essential in redeveloping the historic structure. Every aspect of design and construction was evaluated, analyzed, coordinated and executed with the overall project objectives in mind beginning with the preconstruction value analysis. The important input at this stage of the project helped optimize the process and set the stage for maintaining design intent, cost and schedule parameters.

The team worked closely together from start to finish, co-locating during critical phases of the project. When adjustments were necessary, the team was able to execute them efficiently without compromising project objectives and schedule. This was essential in managing the numerous inadequacies of the historic structure.

One of the key collaboration tools used by the team was Building Information Modeling (BIM). Deep expertise of both the design and construction partners allowed for full coordination of all systems, including those being ‘threaded’ through the existing building. The ability to quickly resolve spatial conflicts fostered an incredible level of confidence among all project team members.

Science and City Revitalization

Once vacant real estate, the completion of the IBIO project redeveloped an entire city block contributing a major feature to the revitalization of the City of Detroit. Not only adding to the aesthetics of the immediate neighborhood, the IBIO adds over 400 jobs to WSU’s man campus. The award-winning LEED certified structure launches new research initiatives that elevate WSU’s national presence and attracts international researchers. The project team succeeded in creating an innovative eye-catching facility that serves as a gateway to the Wayne State campus and an optimal environment for scientific discovery.

Read the full issue of BUILD 18.1 | Higher Education: Research and Collaborative Concepts Bringing Multiple Disciplines Together