Making a Positive Urban Impact

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The nonprofit Center of Research Technology and Entrepreneurial Exchange (CORTEX) was formed to facilitate development of two redevelopment areas in St. Louis, MO. Last month, I explained their vision and introduced the participants, along with highlighting an example development on the campus of St. Louis University. This month, I conclude with several more examples.

Center For Emerging Technologies

The Center for Emerging Technologies in St. Louis is ranked a top-10 business incubation facilities in the United States. In under nine years, CET companies have obtained >$800 million in funding from investors, grants, and revenues. The center is a national leader in initiatives to promote best practices for funding translational R&D, technology transfer, biomedical incubators, and research collaborations among industry and academia.

Two renovated buildings form its core center, and CET is now planning its first new building, which will provide 60,000 ft2 of primarily wet lab space for lease in a facility that emphasizes functional economy, a successful business image, and technological sophistication. Secure parking will be provided in a 100-car subgrade garage. Landscaped terraces, indoor and outdoor informal collaboration spaces, and flexible office space will complement efficient, modular laboratories. Shell space for a future CGMP operation is also incorporated. The upper two floors of the building are modular to maximize efficiency of wet-lab space; the ground floor (containing offices, conference rooms, and service space) is shaped to invoke the fluid and unfettered spirit of creativity and innovation.

BJC Institute of Health

The BJC Institute of Health is a new combination research/ hospital facility supporting BioMed 21, a bold 10-year personalized medicine research initiative at Washington University (WU). Situated in the core of the WU School of Medicine campus and aimed at bridging the basic and clinical sciences, this new facility provides 280,000 ft2 for university research and 380,000 ft2 for an expansion of BJC Healthcare, one of the nation’s largest nonprofit healthcare organizations. Large laboratories with mobile casework, biobehavioral laboratories, biosafety-3 lab suites, and other facilities will support the research of five multidisciplinary centers as well as the departments of pathology, obstetrics and gynecology, and pediatric surgery. Some 110 research teams will be housed in phase one and a subsequent phase of construction will provide an additional 250,000 ft2.

Solae Company

Plant science innovator Solae Company has selected the CORTEX corridor for its new corporate global headquarters. The state-of-the-art facility consolidates previously dispersed business groups and components into a central facility with 70,000 ft2 of office space, 80,000 ft2 of R&D labs, and a 15,000-ft2 pilot plant. Representative of reinvestment in the urban fabric of St. Louis by forward-thinking companies attracted to convenient housing, light-rail transit lines, and urban amenities in the CORTEX area, this new facility allows the company to define its corporate identity in a distinctive building that captures its ideals of innovation.


WU’s Consortium for Translational Research in Advanced Imaging and Nanomedicine (C-TRAIN) exists to facilitate interdisciplinary research in image-based diagnostics and novel biocompatible nanotechnologies for targeted delivery of genes and drugs to treat cardiovascular disease, cancers, and other conditions. Located in the first new life science tenant building in the CORTEX zone (dubbed CORTEX 1), the consortium occupies 18,000 ft2 of newly constructed space and houses ~45 principal investigators, postdoctoral and predoctoral trainees, full-time staff, and administrative personnel. C-TRAIN hosts a full array of imaging, manufacturing, analysis, and computing facilities for formulation/sterilization, molecular biology, biochemistry, phage display, radiochemistry, whole-body magnetic resonance imaging, multislice computer tomography, computer shops, and procedural preparation rooms. A large open office area for trainees and staff is surrounded by individual offices for principal investigators to foster collaboration. A nursing office area adjoins patient prep and testing areas to streamline workflow. Administrative space is located near conferencing and image analysis facilities.

The CORTEX life science corridor has created a critical mass of life science research institutions and companies in under a decade, with >1,100,000 ft2 of highly productive new research space. Even during the current recession, long-term investments have continued. Because of the drive, vision, and collaboration of local entities, St. Louis was able to capitalize on the strong economy of 2003–2008 and begin to move from its old manufacturing base toward a new, knowledge-based economy. Cannon Design planned and designed all these new facilities.