Hauptman Woodward Medical Research Institute - Table of Contents  ..........................  Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus - Table of Contents

Exterior - Hauptman Woodward Medical Research Institute (HWI)
700 Ellicott Street, Buffalo, NY

Hauptman Woodward Medical Research Institute - Official Website

TEXT Beneath Illustrations


2005, part of the Buffalo Life Sciences Complex at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.


Mehrdad Yazdani of Cannon Design in Los Angeles.
Number of stories:
The structural system at the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute consists of structural steel columns, beams and flanges. The structural members are sized larger than required to provide extra rigidity and prevent unnecessary vibration within the critical lab space. The floors are comprised of a 4.5" slab on deck construction with blended fiber reinforcement. The foundation is 5" slab-on-grade, atop 4' poured concrete footings. The atrium consists of a King-Truss roof support system that supports a 4" slab on deck roof assembly in addition to the atrium skylights.
Exterior materials:
Curved aluminum curtain wall with staggered windows to make an architectural statement. In the areas which house the carport, telecommunications, electrical switchgear and pumping systems, a concrete block wall with brick facade was utilized.
Interior feature:
The large atrium invites people into the space and promotes access to all three floors of the building. a grand staircase that runs from the ground to the third floor is a focal point within the space.
Project cost:
Construction Manager:
Ciminelli Development


1956 as the "Medical Foundation of Buffalo"
In 1994, the Medical Foundation was renamed the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute. The name "Hauptman" comes from Herbert A. Hauptman, who pioneered mathematical techniques for determining atomic structure from X-ray diffraction. For this discovery, Hauptman and Jerome Karle were awarded the Nobel prize in chemistry in 1985.
The building challenges the notion of the prototypical lab building by placing the lab spaces within a simple glazed light filled cube and the offices within a cylindrical form, each organized to frame views and create a series of unique offices that express the individual scientist. The two main volumes are separated and interconnected by an expansive glass atrium that promotes spontaneous collaboration and exposes the inner workings of the research labs to the public.
Additional information:
Justin Schultz (online October 2016)

2016 Photos

Facade / Ellicott Street east elevation  ...  Main entrance at bottom of curtain wall  ...  Bridge over Ellicott Street connects to Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences

Main entrance on Ellicott Street

Facade / Ellicott Street east elevation detail

Facade detail

North elevation   ...  View looking south

NE elevation  ...  Carport entrance  ...  In the areas which house the carport, telecommunications, electrical switchgear and pumping systems, a concrete block wall with brick facade was utilized.

West Elevation  ...  Curved aluminum curtain wall with staggered windows  ...  Muskat: "From the exterior, the curved wall mixes metallic grey painted aluminum panels with the cascade of windows, resulting in a simple rhythmic composition."  ...  Two details below:

Detail #1  ...  Sun screens

Detail #2

Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute (HWI) is an independent, not-for-profit biomedical research facility specializing in the area of basic research known as structural biology. Located in the new Buffalo Life Sciences Complex on the BNMC [Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus], this institution was founded in 1956 by Dr. George Koepf and Helen Woodward Rivas. Their president and namesake, Dr. Herbert A. Hauptman, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1985 for his development of the formula known as direct methods, where his application of classical mathematics finally resolved an issue that had defeated generations of chemists.

HWI’s mission is two-fold; they are committed to improving human health by studying the causes of diseases, such as kidney disease, AIDS, cancer, arthritis, thyroid disorders, and many others, at their basic molecular level and are also working to educate the scientists of tomorrow. Since 2001, HWI has served as the University at Buffalo’s Department of Structural Biology.
- Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus: Hauptman-Woodward Institute (online October 2016)
The architecture of the new building for the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute, Structural Biology Research Center in Buffalo, N.Y., expresses one overriding idea: openness.

[Architect Mehrdad] Yazdani designed a three-part complex, consisting of a block laboratory wing lined with transparent channel glass, an aluminum-clad curved office wing and a three-story glass atrium that connects the two.

"The glass allows us to maintain that transparency throughout all the spaces,” Yazdani says. “Visibility between the offices and labs is maintained through channel and vision glass. A visitor could get glimpses of scientists working in the labs right upon entering the atrium.”

“Their previous building was three stories of all brick with tiny windows,” Yazdani says. “If you drove by, you would not know there were Nobel Laureates working inside. Now, the channel glass, interrupted with portions of vision glass, allows diffused natural lighting to enhance the quality of the lab space.
- Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute. Glass Magazine, July 1, 2006 
The building itself is actually formed by a circle and a square. The circular portion is the office complex: the laboratories are housed in the glass square mass.

Although it has been traditional to place scientists’ offices next to their labs, here the offices are moved to the curvilinear building. The two volumes are separated and interconnected by an open atrium. According to [Architect Mehrdad] Yazdani, the atrium "becomes the civic space of the building, or its living room. As scientists cross the atrium to get from office to lab, the hope is that they will engage in informal conferences and interact." The concept that "there be no place for anyone to hide" is bolstered by [Executive Director] Dr. DeTitta’s explanation: "We do a collaborative kind of research. We depend on one another greatly."

The architect skillfully plays with window openings in the curved wall of the office complex. By staggering the fenestration in handsome patterning, he assures that the window placement will be different in each office. From the interior, offices that are exactly the same in size and shape appear more diverse by having windows appear at different heights and positions along the curve. From the exterior, the curved wall mixes metallic grey painted aluminum panels with the cascade of windows, resulting in a simple rhythmic composition.
- Barry A. Muskat, The DNA of a Design.  Buffalo Spree, November 2004

Photos and their arrangement 2016 Chuck LaChiusa
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