This project expands the research program of the House Ear Institute, home of the internationally renowned organization focused on hearing and the ear. The project provides two floors of new Wet Labs, a Bio-containment Lab, Lab Support, dedicated ‘Core’ areas and associated Offices to support the research mission of the Cellular and Molecular Medicine Division. The plan concept of the building is inspired by the curvilinear shape of the cochlea of the inner ear, creating and defining a new outdoor space and arrival courtyard. Research functions occur on the 2nd and 3rd floors, creating a building that appears to hover lightly above the ground. The ground floor houses flexible expansion space; the basement level contains building support and vehicular access to an existing subterranean parking structure.
Reception and arrival to the new wing occurs on the third floor through the existing building. A circulation concourse along the north-facing curved glass wall provides views to the Hollywood Hills and access to the labs, offices, open work areas and conference rooms. Labs are arrayed along the south side of the building, enjoying natural day lighting modulated by light shelf reflector/sunshades; lab support spaces are located to the interior of the bar. A future BSL-3 bio containment suite has been planned into one end of the research block. Researcher offices with operable windows are positioned along the western surface, which is shaded by a projecting aluminum sunscreen. The acute angled “prow” of the building under which one passes to ceremonially enter the arrival court contains conference rooms on each floor. A centrally located open stairway facilitates spontaneous interaction and communication amongst researchers and connects the two lab floors together into a unified team culture.
The tiered, curvilinear glazed wall on the north defines an outdoor arrival court, filling the building with natural north light, and providing views from the open work areas, conference rooms and the circulation concourse to the adjacent mountains. The resulting outdoor “room” below contains spaces for reflection amidst renovated gardens and provides access to a new glass-canopied entry to the building. A fountain at the center is designed to reflect the building, with a variety of integrated water movement features providing different acoustic options that can be “tuned” in the court. The south and west elevations are clad with fluted pre-cast concrete — simultaneously matching the new building to the existing building in terms of material and color, while the form, texture, and detailing of the paneling sets it apart with a strong, dynamic new identity.
Photography: Fotoworks/Benny Chan