Center for Biotechnology & Biomedical Research
Palermo, Sicily


Davis Brody Bond collaborated with Arup and Peter Walker Partners in an international competition for the design of the CBRC RiMED — Centro per le Biotecnologie e la Ricerca Biomedica — a 270,000 sf (25,000 sq m) medical research facility run by the RiMED Foundation, an international partnership between Italian government and research entities and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

The BRBC will be located in northwest Sicily two kilometers inland from the coast, on a dramatic, semi-rural site, near the Punta Raisi airport, defined by a view of the Mediterranean and surrounded on three sides by ridges.  The landscape plan (designed in collaboration with Peter Walker Partners), capitalizes on existing terrain and a mild climate to orient the building simultaneously to outdoor terraced collaborative spaces and expansive vistas.

The essential BRBC program is laboratories, in eight departments plus shared support including core labs, imaging equipment, a vivarium, and an armature for fostering a research community: conference rooms, an auditorium, guest residences, and partner laboratories.  The concept of laboratory neighborhoods reinforces lab functionality and fosters a sense of community via interaction spaces in circulation, office zones and indoor/outdoor public spaces.  The conceptual and actual exchange between the BRBC and a future 300-bed Hospital creates bench to bed translational research, a fundamental factor in our design.  Advanced lab technology, passive sustainability technology through natural ventilation and shading, and a central energy plant (designed in collaboration with Arup), reduce the carbon footprint and resource utilization of what would ordinarily be an energy intensive building.  A palette of locally indigenous materials reiterates the dialogue between the natural site and an intensely technical program.