Northwestern University

Louis A. Simpson and Kimberly K. Querrey Biomedical Research Center

Vibrant academic hub supporting life-saving biomedical research.

Situated within downtown Chicago, as part of Northwestern University's lakefront campus and the Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine, the Louis A. Simpson and Kimberly K. Querrey Biomedical Research Center (SQBRC) creates a new home for scientific innovation, collaboration, education, and discovery.

Widely recognized as the largest biomedical academic researching building across the United States, the SQBRC is designed to maximize connection and interaction through high-impact, energy-efficient, flexible laboratory settings — accelerating science and transforming human lives.

Spanning more than 630,000 square feet and 13 floors of dedicated laboratory space — each encompassing 23 varying research groups — the first phase of the SQBRC includes ample space for current research needs while providing flexibility to accommodate future growth, including the addition of 21 lab floors without disruption to ongoing operations.


Chicago, IL


  • P&W - Architect of Record
  • Power Construction Company, LLC - Contractor
  • Terra Engineering, Ltd. - Civil Engineer
  • Thornton Tomasetti - Structural Engineer

LEED Status


Building Size

630,000 sq. ft.


  • 2021 Design Excellence Award

An all-glass façade promotes transparency while creating a striking prominence in downtown Chicago.

With an emphasis on transparency, the building's interconnected design fosters and encourages opportunities for collaboration — new connections to accelerate scientific breakthroughs relating to heart disease, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and pediatric research.

In addition to providing comprehensive mechanical, electrical, and plumbing/piping (MEP) services for the first project phase, AEI's in-depth energy modeling and corresponding high-performance design measures significantly contributed to the facility's LEED Gold certification.

The ground level features a variety of conferencing areas and public spaces, with a second-floor skywalk.

Each lab floor is designed to accommodate varying research neighborhoods, further referencing themes of collaboration, connection, and interaction.

Given the constraints of a densely populated urban locale prone to extreme climatic variations and the need for a high-performance, lab-intensive, energy-efficient academic building, the SQBRC presented several unique design challenges. AEI's innovative solutions included a wide variety of energy-saving measures, including:

  • Two separate exhaust systems — general building exhaust served by a 70 percent-effective total energy heat wheel; and lab fume exhaust served by 50 percent-effective, run-around heat recovery.
  • High-performance lab equipment, including high-efficiency Sterling freezers that help decrease thermal load and lower airflow within the lab spaces
  • Upgraded chilled water distribution system featuring energy-efficient primary pumping system
  • Advanced humidification system utilizing pressurized water versus traditional steam
  • Dry heat sterilization in lab spaces

Collaboration at its core, the Simpson Querrey Biomedical Research Center also connects to nearby research campuses, including the Stanley Manne Children's Research Institute and the Robert H. Lurie Biomedical Research Center — a key strategy in AEI's high-performance design. A chiller plant integration with the Lurie facility allows for consolidated systems (outlined below), serving both buildings while providing significant cost and energy savings.

  • A high-efficiency, low-pressure steam plant
  • Newly installed heating capacity serves both buildings
  • High-efficiency electrical chillers replacing former steam absorber chillers

A look inside the Potocsnak Family Atrium — dedicated public space that also serves as a forum for campus-related functions and events.

All lab research neighborhoods include associated interaction areas and support space to promote cross-discipline communication.

Further maximizing its urban footprint and concepts of transparency and connection, the SQBRC features an all-glass facade and an abundance of natural-lit, open spaces and greenery to enhance creativity and hospitality.

“Research groups grow based on new discoveries and new funding. What you want is space that is much more open to expand and contract to follow where the science is going. That’s what the new Simpson Querrey Biomedical Research Center gives us.” - Dr. Elizabeth McNally, Director of the Center for Genetic Medicine at Feinberg

From developing nanomaterials to biological scaffolding, the building features advanced HVAC systems to support airflow requirements associated with lab-intensive environments.

Enhancing Northwestern University's lakefront campus with a landmark biomedical academic research and education facility dedicated to advancing human progress.

Project Leaders