UC Berkeley News
Press Release

UC Berkeley Press Release

Artist's rendering of the planned Li Ka Shing Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences.
Artist's rendering of the planned Li Ka Shing Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences. (UC Berkeley image)

New teaching, research building gets go-ahead

– The University of California Board of Regents this week approved the construction of a new facility on the UC Berkeley campus that will house teaching and research focused on the fundamental molecular mechanisms underlying human health and disease.

The building, to be called the Li Ka Shing Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences, will replace Warren Hall, a 52-year-old building on the western edge of campus that is rated seismically poor and was judged too outmoded to retrofit. Demolition of Warren Hall is planned to start in early 2008.

"The Li Ka Shing Center is a critical investment in the future of biomedical scientific research at Berkeley, particularly in the area of stem cell biology," said Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau.

"This is an exciting and critical step for UC Berkeley," said Robert Tjian, professor of molecular and cell biology and faculty director of the campus's Health Sciences Initiative, a decade-long effort to initiate and nurture new paradigms of biomedical teaching and research. Tjian led a faculty team to establish the program plan for the new building, which, with the almost-completed Stanley Biosciences and Bioengineering Facility, will provide superior teaching and research space to foster collaborative research in the health and biological sciences.

The overarching goal of the center's research will be the study of the molecular basis for disease, with a strong emphasis on multidisciplinary approaches to stem cell research. Faculty who are based in the center's laboratories will include experts in stem cell biology, neuroscience, cancer biology and infectious disease.

When complete, the Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences will be a five-story structure with one basement level. The facility will house instructional and research laboratories, a major lecture hall, seminar and colloquia classrooms, the Henry H. Wheeler Brain Imaging Center, and several floors of highly specialized labs for stem cell research. The laboratory and teaching space has been designed to maximize interaction and collaboration, as well as to effectively meet the evolving needs of modern science. The new building will also contain lecture halls and modern instructional labs for innovative undergraduate coursework and sophisticated training in the use of new research techniques, including the use of cultured stem cells.

Designed by the architectural firm Zimmer Gunsul Frasca LLP of Portland, Ore., the modern building will contain two-and-a-half times the floor space of Warren Hall, while maintaining a similar footprint. The concrete, terra cotta, glass and stainless steel facade is designed and landscaped to fit into the campus's tree-lined West Crescent, the main entry to the campus via University Avenue.

In keeping with recent University of California green building policy, the center will sport sod roofs, energy-conserving windows and sunshades, and enhanced natural lighting to reduce energy consumption. In all, the construction and operation of the building is planned to achieve the equivalent of a silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating, a benchmark promulgated by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The new center is named for Li Ka-Shing, one of the world's leading philanthropists and entrepreneurs, who provided lead funding for this new research building. Funding for the remainder of the construction cost will come from a mixture of private donations, state funds and anticipated grants from state agencies. The McCarthy Building Co. has been hired as the general contractor.