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Ri.MED Laboratory Complex Central Conference Space and Outdoor Break Area

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HOK Wins Design Competition for UPMC-Managed Research Center in Italy  

PITTSBURGH, Nov. 27, 2012 – In a major milestone for a project that will expand scientific research in Italy, architectural firm HOK has been selected as lead architect for a new biomedical research center to be built in Sicily. The Biomedical Research and Biotechnology Center (BRBC), to be managed by UPMC and funded by the Italian government, is expected to open in 2016 and will eventually employ more than 600 scientists and other staff.
Plans for the 334,000-square-foot (31,000-square-meter) facility were unveiled today in Palermo, Sicily, in an event attended by Italian political leaders, including Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and Rosario Crocetta, president of the Region of Sicily, as well as executives from UPMC, the University of Pittsburgh, HOK and the Ri.MED Foundation, which launched the competition and was created to oversee development of the center.

Announced six years ago, the BRBC is an outgrowth of ISMETT, the Palermo-based transplant and specialty hospital managed by UPMC for 15 years in a public-private partnership with the Sicilian government. The $269 million (210 million euros) research center is expected to put Italy in the forefront of drug discovery, vaccine development, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, molecular imaging, and computational and structural biology, while serving as a catalyst for economic development throughout the region.

Leading a consortium of international design and engineering firms, HOK was selected by a jury of Italian scientists and architects from among 14 entries in a worldwide design competition. The facility, to be built in Carini, near Palermo, will be unmatched in size and scope by any other Italian research institution.

“HOK’s dynamic and flexible design for the biomedical research center reflects the exciting scientific discoveries that this facility will generate for the world and the great economic benefits that it will bring for the Region of Sicily,” said Bruno Gridelli, M.D., vice chairman of Ri.MED and chief executive officer of ISMETT.

HOK designed the BRBC as a compact village connected by a single pedestrian street that will promote communication and collaboration among researchers and clinicians. Flexible laboratory space is divided into four wings on three floors of one building, with ample natural light and spectacular views of the Tyrrhenian Sea to the north and the mountains to the south. A central commons building and plaza will provide additional conference facilities, and a patient trial clinic and incubator labs will be located nearby.

To support Ri.MED’s sustainability goals, HOK designed the campus to be one of the world’s most environmentally responsive and resource-efficient research facilities. The design aims to achieve a minimum of LEED® Gold certification from the Green Building Council Italia.

HOK has designed some of the world’s most innovative health sciences facilities, including the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, The Francis Crick Institute’s biomedical research center in London, and the University of Chicago’s William Eckhardt Research Center.

Since the decision to create the BRBC was announced in April 2006, dozens of Italian researchers have been working in the laboratories of the University of Pittsburgh to prepare for the opening. Pitt, UPMC’s academic partner, will direct the center’s research program.

“The BRBC will be part of UPMC’s global network of researchers, clinicians and specialists collaborating to reshape the practice of health care around the world,” said Charles Bogosta, president of UPMC’s International and Commercial Services Division. “This new center will build upon the clinical and scientific excellence that we’ve established in Pittsburgh and Palermo and produce innovations that will benefit patients everywhere.”

Ri.MED’s founding members are the Presidency of the Italian government, the Presidency of the Region of Sicily, the Italian National Research Council, UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh. In addition to managing the research center for Ri.MED, UPMC has been engaged as the foundation’s technical advisor and will provide direction and advice during the design, construction and start-up of the research center.

UPMC’s international operations now include facilities or programs in Italy, Ireland, China, Japan, Singapore and Kazakhstan. ISMETT (Istituto Mediterraneo per i Trapianti e Terapie ad Alta Specializzazione), part of the Sicilian Regional Health System, offers all solid organ transplant programs and high-specialty therapies with outstanding clinical results and is one of the leading organ transplant centers in Europe.

To learn more about HOK's Design of Ri.MED's new biomedical research hub in Italy, go to

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