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$35 Million Whitehead Addition to Open Next April

By Ramy A. Arnaout
News Editor

Construction is well under way on a sizeable new research wing for the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. The wing should be open by next April, said Whitehead Associate Director John Pratt.

The six-story, 76,000-square-foot addition, which was started last June, will nearly double the size of Whitehead's Cambridge Center building, according to a press release.

The $35 million project is on schedule and under budget, Pratt said.

"I'm delighted that we're having a new wing," said Whitehead Director Gerald R. Fink. "It's going to enable us to develop a whole set new of programs; in many ways it's a realization of an original idea of [Whitehead], which is to start out with young faculty and now be able to provide them with space for their projects."

Whitehead will use the space to double the size of its state-of-the-art animal facility, said Eve Nichols, of the Whitehead Department of Public Affairs. Also, by increasing biological containment facilities, Whitehead researchers will be able to expand their research into AIDS, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases, she said.

The wing will also house a new X-ray crystallography facility aimed at meeting the needs of Whitehead's growing program in structural biology, the press release said.

Having such a facility is "very, very critical It's the gold standard for top institutes, and it's time we accommodate our faculty," said Harriet Winer, director for Whitehead's fund-raising Campaign for Discovery, which helps fund the construction project.

The expansion has been in the planning for the last four or five years, Winer said. "It's part of our strategic plan" to improve and expand research in three key areas: transgenic science, infectious diseases, and structural biology, she said.

"We see these as burgeoning areas that are internationally important in terms of the science," Fink said. "Here at MIT, they're the areas that [undergraduate students], postdocs, and graduate students are very interested in."

"The steel is up; the skin is yet to go on," said John Shearns, Whitehead facilities director, about the progress of construction.

The wing's exterior will keep with the main building's style for the most part, Pratt said, although the wing's color will be a little lighter. Inside, the floor plan will also be very similar to that of the main building, he said.

"We're following the same kind of interior design because it's been so successful in [the main] building," Pratt said. This design places laboratories near the outer walls of each floor, and common, shared equipment space toward the center, he said.

The wing's designers, Goody, Clancy, and Associates, and its contractors, Turner Construction, also worked on the main building, Pratt said.