photo of the Clark Center Courtyard at night

The James H. Clark Center

The iconic form of Clark Center embodies the collaborative spirit of Bio-X. Sweeping windows reveal open lab spaces which dissolve the walls between labs, people and ideas. Researchers flow through this nexus that blends traditional departments, schools and areas of study.

The three-story, 245,000-square-foot research center brings together under one roof a variety of disciplines, including biology, medicine, chemistry, physics and engineering. That's why it is an ark – it houses a menagerie of disciplines and specialties that coexist side by side. But it's also a cauldron – ideas and discoveries are always brewing and mixing inside it.

Clark Center was designed by Foster and Partners in collaboration with MBT Architecture. Construction began in 2001; it opened in 2003.

The building features three wings enfolding a courtyard, at the center of which is a circular stage for events such as concerts. Beneath the stage, underground, is a round auditorium with 150 cardinal-red seats. The room is rimmed with a skylight that can constrict like the pupil of an eye to block incoming light. Glass walls, bridges linking wings, and exposed staircases and balconies all contribute to the open design that supports connections.

Bio-X director Carla Shatz calls it a very special building. "The Clark Center is a complete joy to work in," said Shatz, a professor of neurobiology and of biology. "Every day I enter the building with a huge smile on my face. Not only are the space and the aesthetics gorgeous, but the labs are state of the art and the ability to flow from one lab to the next is liberating after spending years in research buildings with long hallways." 

Excerpted from a story by Robin Wander.  Read More