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TMC3 Founding Institutions Unveil Master Plan for Life Sciences Research Campus

Elkus Manfredi Architects, Transwestern Development Company and Vaughn Construction will bring TMC3 to life with inspired design and unprecedented connectivity for collaborative biomedical research hub

Photo of an aerial view of the planned TMC3 translational research campus, which is scheduled to open in 2022. (Photo credit: Elkus Manfredi Architects)
An aerial view of the planned TMC3 translational research campus, which is scheduled to open in 2022. (Photo credit: Elkus Manfredi Architects)

TMC3 founding institutions – Texas Medical Center (TMC), Baylor College of Medicine, Texas A&M University Health Science Center, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center – today announced that Elkus Manfredi Architects, Transwestern Development Company, and Vaughn Construction will serve as the architectural and development team to execute the physical manifestation for the game-changing 37-acre TMC3 translational research campus.

Announced in April 2018 at a press conference led by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and the leadership of the five founding TMC member institutions, TMC3 will become the first-ever collaborative health care nexus to bridge the geographic gap between TMC’s existing clinical and research campuses and establish Houston as the Third Coast for life sciences.

“Texas Medical Center is eager to move forward with a bold, imaginative and dynamic new design vision for the TMC3 Master Plan,” emphasized TMC CEO & President Bill McKeon. He added, “With the combined talents of Elkus Manfredi Architects, Transwestern Development, and Vaughn Construction on-board, I couldn’t be more confident that this dream team will flawlessly execute the totality of the project’s vision and fulfill its mission to bring together leading researchers and top-tiered expertise from the private sector to create the number one biotechnology and bioscience innovation center in the entire world.”

The master plan will undergo critical updates in design, form, and function that will combine collaborative research facilities with a mix of uses – retail, residential, hotel and conference center, as well as abundant green space – in order to cultivate a true “live, work, play” ecosystem. As such, TMC3 will better engage the public and establish the campus as a civic destination that is accessible, inclusive, and vibrant.

“If you think about great academic institutions, it’s the outdoor space that defines their campuses because that’s what brings people together,” said Elkus Manfredi Architects CEO and Founding Principal, David Manfredi. He added, “Our idea was to expand on the DNA design concept and create a series of spaces that would elongate the strand all the way north to the historic core of the Texas Medical Center and south to the new development by UTHealth and MD Anderson in order to create more opportunity for connections and collisions. We’re implementing the connective tissue between all these places and establishing opportunities for unplanned interactions. Science, technology, medicine, discovery and innovation are all about making connections, and we are building a space for institutions, industry and startups to interact.”

Elkus Manfredi Architects has a proven track record in the medical innovation space, including the original Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and The Stanley Building at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, MA and the New York Genome Center, among many others. The firm will work on the project in tandem with Houston-based Transwestern Development, which will serve as fee developer for the site, and Vaughn Construction, an industry leader in commercial construction for over 30 years. Each of the five founding TMC3 partner institutions heralded the updated campus design elements, which include individual lab buildings in addition to ground floor mixed uses in each building that will actively engage the Houston community.

The former centralized helix-shaped facility will be transposed with an elongated DNA necklace in the form of a green space promenade that cuts vertically across the entirety of the campus while being interlaced horizontally by a walkable – and drivable – urban street grid. The DNA strand will not only give TMC3 an instantly recognizable brand identity, it will also link a series of open green spaces designed to attract and retain top talent that is slated to become an attraction for the entire city. Each space can serve a different need for wide-ranging demographics, including one created for a park-like setting, another for outdoor activities, and a third as an amphitheatre.

“We want to create spaces that attract talent. You can attract talent with great colleagues, research and facilities, but if you don’t have a great social environment for people to live, learn, and play, people move on,” continued David Manfredi. He added, “We are creating a place where people will want to be because they’re constantly stimulated – whether it’s breakfast at the local coffee shop, or a volleyball league in the afternoon, or working in a central lab and the person next to them is doing something intersects with their own research.”

An updated street level amenity plan includes first floor retail spaces at each of the DNA helix promenade fixtures’ adjoining buildings that will house the founding institutions’ dedicated facilities. Parking will be housed underground to optimize the street level space for walkability, amenities, and communal interactions.

Baylor College of Medicine will expand its research and education facilities within the TMC3 campus. Additionally, Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center will increase its footprint on the McNair Campus with the second tower of the hospital to occupy TMC3’s eastern edge.

“The selection of a development team is an important milestone for the TMC3 project,” said Paul Klotman, MD, President, CEO and Executive Dean of Baylor College of Medicine. “The project itself is a huge step in developing the biotech industry in Houston. At Baylor, we look forward to working closely with TMC leaders, as well as those of the other anchor institutions, in making this project a reality.”

Texas A&M Health Science Center research building will be located on the north end between TMC3 Hotel and Conference Center and Baylor College of Medicine’s research building. “TMC3 – as first envisioned by Gov. Greg Abbott – will keep Houston and Texas on the leading edge of medical research,” said John Sharp, Chancellor of The Texas A&M University System. “Texas Aggies can be proud that our Health Science Center, led by Carrie L. Byington, MD, is at the forefront of this game-changing research institution.”

MD Anderson and UTHealth will each develop new research facilities on the south end of the campus, and both will connect to the expanded University of Texas Research Park that is directly to the south of the campus. A skybridge will be constructed to connect the UT Research Park with the TMC3 Campus.

“Our collective effort to select this world-class development team is an example of the power of collaboration, which is the point of this entire project,” said Peter WT Pisters, MD, President, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. “The newly redesigned project will optimize our ability to partner together and with industry to truly impact life sciences and health care – now and in the future.”

“This critical step forward in the development of the TMC3 campus is a testament to the vision of Gov. Greg Abbott and the University of Texas System Board of Regents, and to the shared commitment of all of our member institutions,” said Giuseppe N. Colasurdo, MD, UTHealth President. “The campus, and its underlying partnerships, will put the City of Houston and the State of Texas at the forefront of discovery and medical breakthroughs.”

The area’s main communal building at the center of the TMC3 Campus will now take the form of a bustling nerve center called TMC3 Collaborative. The ground floor of the building will boast an open central atrium used for the gathering of researchers to share transformational projects alongside a diverse mix of food and beverage concepts. The upper floors will house shared collaborative institutional research space and industry partner facilities. The north end of the reconfigured district will house the previously announced Texas Medical Center Hotel and Conference Center, along with a residential tower on the helix promenade.

“When TMC3 opens in 2022, Texas Medical Center will officially plant a tangible flag that signals its arrival as the Third Coast for life sciences for the foreseeable future,” McKeon added.

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