A massive life science hub is coming to 787 11th Avenue in Manhattan, a former Albert Kahn-designed car showroom and assembly of auto shops now being converted to offices by Rafael Viñoly Architects. Developer Georgetown Company announced the news yesterday, March 4, and confirmed that it had secured two anchor tenants to build out the hub: The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, which will develop a new 165,000-square-foot healthcare facility, and architect, designer, and inventor Neri Oxman, who will build a 36,000-square-foot research and design lab.
The ten-story 787 11th Avenue, sited between West 54th and 55th Street on Manhattan’s far west side at the edge of the Hudson River, was purchased by Georgetown and hedge fund billionaire and founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management, (and Oxman’s husband) Bill Ackman, in 2015 and the conversion is finally coming to a close. In addition to restoring the 1927 art deco building, Vinoly Architects has gutted the interior to create open, 60,000-square-foot floor plates, and planted a recessed two-story glass topper on what was originally only an eight-story building, adding an additional 86,000 square feet of occupiable offices as well as a 12,000-square-foot roof terrace.
Inside, Oxman, who currently leads the Mediated Matter research group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will build out a research and design facility, that, according to Georgetown, will seek “to foster systemic changes in the built environment by radically realigning methods of design and production with the natural world. Operating at the intersection of technology and biology, the Lab will research, design and implement inventions to address complex challenges across product, architectural, urban and planetary scales.”
What, exactly, that will entail isn’t clear, but using novel materials in parametrically-generated forms to produce both fashion and structural objects is something of Oxman’s, and by extension Media Matter’s, oeuvre. Whether it be resin infused with melanin to create a wholly artificial, yet still organic potential building material that would darken or lighten in response to sunlight (a project not without its detractors) or structures woven from living silk worms, Oxman’s so-called “material ecology” projects have always been exciting, but not really scalable. It seems like this new research lab (a bit closer to home for Oxman and co) will focus on focus on just that.
The Icahn School of Medicine, conversely, will build out a genome sequencing and editing research center, an ambulatory surgery center, a spine and breast center (which the surgery center will cater towards), and a new imaging center.
No timetable or cost estimate has been released for either portion of the life science hub.