Farmington, Connecticut is stepping into the future of medical research with the newly completed Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine. The project is part of the state’s Bioscience Connecticut Initiative meant to jump-start local research and development. Identified as the catalyst to kick-start this initiative, Jax Genomic Medicine has settled into a 16-acre parcel of land adjacent to the University of Connecticut campus, strategically located near some of the country’s top educational institutions and medical facilities. The four-story, 183,500 square-foot medical research facility features 17 “wet” biology labs and 17 “dry,” computer-based labs clustered for collaborative purposes with additional faculty offices, employee amenities, and vast spaces for large group gatherings.
Jackson Laboratory – Zinc Facade
Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine, Farmington, CT, RHEINZINK prePatina Blue Gray Zinc, Flatlock Facade Panels, photo by Robert Benson photography
Design of this sophisticated research facility was tasked to the team at Centerbrook Architects & Planners in concert with Tsoi Kobus & Associates out of Centerbrook, Connecticut and Cambridge, Massachusetts, respectively. The intention was two-fold, first to design a striking facility and second, to conserve funds for science while remaining sophisticated enough to draw internationally renowned scientists. For the façade of this facility, MetalTech-USA Zinc Panels were a perfect fit.
The building consists of a structural steel frame faced with Canadian limestone, glass, and 14,000 square feet of Zinc 1.0 mm prePatina Gray Zinc panels fabricated by MetalTech-USA. Centerbrook architect Andrew Santaniello cites aesthetics and longevity as being behind the choice of the exterior zinc cladding. Santaniello attests, “The zinc ages well and becomes more beautiful as the building ages. It also was a cost-effective option for metal cladding used on the project.” The Blue Gray hue of the zinc was another critical factor in its specification as Centerbrook favored a varied palette of materials and finishes that would complement each other. “The limestone has blue veining that the Blue Gray of the zinc was able to pick up on,” Santaniello adds. “It also subtly blended with the champagne and pewter colors of the aluminum curtain wall frame.”
The contours of the site provided significant design challenges and influenced the design’s shape to conform to a graceful arc while also allowing room for potential expansion as the lab continues to grow. The connecting joint of the existing facility and the prospective wing is a distinctive oval structure visually wrapping inside, providing continuity and blurring the boundary between inside and out. “Transparency was a big factor in the design of the building, and using the zinc on the interior again helps to create that continuity,” says Steve Palumbo of Tsoi Kobus & Associates.