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May 5, 2010

SickKids Research Tower by Diamond and Schmitt breaks ground

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The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) broke ground today on a new Research & Learning Tower designed by Diamond and Schmitt Architects, with HDR Inc. The 750,000-square-foot, 21-storey building will consolidate research activity for 2,000 staff. It will be the largest high-rise research facility in Canada. Features of the building include 17 floors of lab space, a learning concourse, administrative offices, lobby and retail space, a 250-seat auditorium, break out meeting rooms, conference rooms, public areas and two floors of below-grade parking.

Currently, SickKids research staff are scattered throughout the Discovery District in downtown Toronto. Bringing them together under one roof highlights a goal of the worldrenowned hospital to raise its profile as a centre of research.

The building design addresses two main objectives, said principal architect Donald Schmitt. “We want to facilitate interaction among researchers by creating collaborative neighbourhoods in the high-rise form. The building design is meant to be accessible and visible to the public in order to demystify the nature of research activity”. The first three floors of the building comprise the learning concourse with the ampitheatre-style auditorium, conference rooms and public space. “The idea is that research done upstairs comes down to the street for presentation, review and discussion”, Schmitt added.

Features of the new research facility will incorporate:
– Seven research neighbourhoods spanning two and three floors, each connected by atrium spaces, staircases, lounges and kitchens
– Access to natural light for over 90 percent of the program areas
– State-of-the-art web tele-education facilities
– Flexible learning labs
– Display areas

The Tower is designed with a strong commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainability, targeting LEED Gold certification in addition to complying with the Toronto Green Building Standards. Sustainable measure include:
– Sourcing local construction supplies with recycled content and wood from sustainable forests
– Harvesting rainwater from the roof in two cisterns for use in washroom fixtures and to irrigate landscaping
– High-performance curtain wall cladding
– Solid portions of the exterior wall assemblies have increased insulation from the normal R16 to a R20 level
– Use of low-emitting interior materials to improve indoor air quality
– A building lighting control system with daylight sensors and occupancy sensors to reduce electrical energy consumption
– A Green Housekeeping Program will monitor and control the use of solvents and cleaning agents by maintenance staff
– An interactive Green Building educational kiosk to educate the public about initiatives being employed at SickKids

Overall, these features will result in 20 percent more vision glass than a typical office building with excellent thermal performance; a 30 percent water-use reduction over a comparable facility and a 33 percent improvement over the Model National Energy Code from sensors and mechanical systems that extract energy from exhaust systems. The $400-million research tower is scheduled to open in 2013. “It will be a beacon of research and learning in the heart of Toronto’s Discovery District and a magnet for the best researchers from around the globe”, said Mary Jo Haddad, President and CEO of the hospital.

The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) is recognized as one of the world’s foremost paediatric health-care institutions and is Canada’s leading centre dedicated to advancing children’s health through the integration of patient care, research and education. Founded in 1875 and affiliated with the University of Toronto, SickKids is one of Canada’s most research-intensive hospitals and has generated discoveries that have helped children globally.

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