Wexford Phoenix Biomedical Campus Building 1 makes way for economic development, biomedical research that impacts the community
The din of construction on the northeast corner of Garfield and Fifth streets in downtown Phoenix will soon give way to a flurry of activity as the researchers and entrepreneurs who will inhabit half of the new 225,000-square-foot building that now stands there move in to embark on journeys of discovery and advancement that promise to enhance the health and vibrancy of the surrounding community.
Wexford Phoenix Biomedical Campus Building 1 (PBC1) broke ground in 2019 after Arizona State University, the city of Phoenix and real estate development company Wexford Science and Technology saw an opportunity to bridge the surrounding neighborhoods, the academic community and the professional community through research, entrepreneurial activity and corporate engagement to create a thriving knowledge community.
As ASU President Michael Crow noted during a virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony March 30, despite the pandemic, great progress is still being made.
“This building is the beginning of a new kind of energy in downtown Phoenix,” Crow said. “(One where) private sector companies are clustering around scientists, around nurses, around physicians, around students, around dreamers, engineers, creative people, entrepreneurial people, innovative people.”
The $77 million state-of-the-art facility is the first piece of a 7-acre parcel ASU is responsible for on the city-owned Phoenix Biomedical Campus, a 30-acre area in the heart of downtown that was established in 2004 by an initiative between the city, the Arizona Board of Regents and the state’s public universities to expand medical education and research in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego shared her hopes Tuesday for PBC1 to take the downtown biomedical campus and the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to the next level as one of the top five emerging bioscience areas in the country.
“This is place that you want to work, where you're going to come up with the next cure for cancer, which I'm convinced is coming through the downtown biomedical campus,” Gallego said.
ASU will lease approximately 112,000 square feet — half of the building — for 15 years with three five-year options. The remainder of the building will be occupied by private-sector companies, a fact that organizers expect will be the secret sauce in forging the kind of discovery and innovation that can have a real impact on the community.
Wexford Science and Technology exclusively partners with universities, academic medical centers and research institutions to develop mixed-use, amenity-rich knowledge communities. The company’s portfolio extends across nine states and includes projects in Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, Miami and Baltimore.
Thomas Osha, Wexford Science and Technology’s senior vice president for innovation and economic development, said it’s no accident that the new building in downtown Phoenix is located in the middle of a diverse urban area and is right next to the Roosevelt Row Arts District.
“Innovation districts aren't exclusive, walled campuses,” Osha said. “They're porous, they’re open, they’re inviting, and they’re creating inclusive opportunities for residents of the entire area, and at all levels.”
The building itself features 240,000 square feet of wet and dry labs, office and retail space, and is LEED Gold certified. Global design firm HKS served as the architect and interior designer for the project, which was inspired by the saguaro cactus, native to the Sonoran Desert in which PBC1 is located.
"Like the saguaro," HKS' website states, "the building facade combats the arid climate conditions with geometric ribs that shade the structure and help mitigate the effects of the extreme solar radiation. ... The materials used for the exterior are primarily concrete, weathered steel and brick, which are slow to warm up during the day and dissipate the heat."