Research Adaptability
Future-proofed facility provides maximum flexibility for multiple disciplines

This project embraces the notion that collaboration happens everywhere – in the corridors, at the desks and in the labs. The building contains a largely shared environment that minimizes privatized, enclosed work spaces.

Stair and Suite Entrance 

Interaction Space


Write-up / Computation

Level 4 Biological Design 

Level 8 Hybrid Neuroscience 

Level 6 Shell 

Level 9 Human Neuroscience 

In a radical departure from conventional practice, the building’s main mechanical spaces are located neither on the roof nor below grade, but on levels two and three where they aid in easy adaptation within the research floors.


134 kBtu / sf

less energy than average building savings = annual energy of 574 homes

reduction in building water usage =
5,479 bathtubs

reduction in stormwater run-off


Boston University
Rajen Kilachand Center for Integrated Life Sciences and Engineering

Boston, MA / United States

170,000 SF

Neuroscience, Synthetic Biology, Human Imaging

Certified LEED Gold

Boston University’s newest research facility, the Rajen Kilachand Center for Integrated Life Sciences and Engineering (CILSE), occupies a former parking lot along Commonwealth Avenue. The nine-story, 170,000 SF building supports a wide range of research modalities to serve existing and future scientific communities. Focused initially on neuroscience and synthetic biology, the building also accommodates testing suites as well as biochemistry and computational research. In addition, the CILSE includes a state-of-the-art human Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (FMRI) facility that can be used to study conditions such as Traumatic Brain Injury and Parkinson’s disease.

The University was in need of a flexible, interdisciplinary research environment to accommodate current scientific research and offer easily adaptable space for to-be-determined explorations.  

The design for CILSE provides targeted flexibility. Nesting supply and exhaust ducts, the design team made the research floor plates identical and provided zones of varying vibration, cooling and air handling intensity so that each floor can accommodate a broad array of research pursuits. The location of the mechanical equipment on the second and third floors further supports the research floors’ adaptability. Placing the mechanical systems on these floors instead of the conventional practice of locating the mechanical spaces on the roof (where they are visible from the street) or below grade (where they are susceptible to flood damage) permits optimization of vertical distribution and mechanical infrastructure, allowing each floor plate to yield the same amount of net-assignable square footage regardless of location.

In addition, instead of a “one-size-fits-all” approach to programmatic distribution, the design team implemented a zoned approach on each floor, creating low, medium and high intensity areas. This allows for low intensity program spaces, such as computational labs and offices, and high-intensity program spaces, including animal facilities, to be located on the same floor without an energy penalty.

The zoned approach is especially helpful for behavioral neuroscience research since animal models and testing facilities can be located on the same floor as the principal investigators’ labs. Furthermore, the zoned approach increases the potential for interdisciplinary collaboration, establishing a flexible framework that supports the creation of core laboratories on any floor.

Photography: © Chuck Choi; © Keitaro Yoshioka

James H. Collins, Jr., FAIA, LEED AP

Charles S. Klee, AIA, LEED AP
Design Principal

Peter F. Vieira, AIA, LEED AP
Project Manager / Architect