`Jewel' of research facilities is half occupied

More than two years after construction began, the $25-million West Wing addition of the Woodruff Memorial Building (WMB) is 50 percent occupied.

With the new addition, WMB is "the jewel in the crown of Emory research facilities," according to Charlie Andrews, director of space planning for the School of Medicine.

The first West Wing occupants moved in last June, Andrews said, and the 140,000-square-foot, eight story addition should be fully occupied by the end of 1995. Andrews said the entire building, including the original portions built in the 1950s and 1960s, contains about 350,000 square feet. Prior to the West Wing construction, the medical school began an ongoing project in 1989 to renovate all of the older portion of the building. That project should be completed this year.

WMB houses all of the School of Medicine's clinical science departments, where many of the faculty members also have Emory Hospital responsibilities. The school's basic science departments are housed in the Rollins Research Center.

Departments that have research facilities in WMB include Medicine, which includes the divisions of Hematology/Oncology, Endocrinology, Rheumatology, Cardiology and Renal Medicine; Dermatology, Obstetrics/Gynecology, Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Surgery, Neurosurgery, Neurology, Pathology and Anesthesiology.

Designed by the architectural firm of Lord, Aeck & Sargent, the West Wing addition features a dramatic facade of curved, tinted glass rising over Cox Hall and Alabama Hall.

Andrews said a significant design feature of the addition is a service corridor on each floor which allows maintenance and service access to laboratories without disrupting the laboratory itself. Storage for gases used in research, located in the ceilings of many older labs, is located in the service corridor behind the back wall of the laboratory. Andrews said such a configuration also makes it possible to reallocate or renovate particular modules of lab space without disrupting adjoining space.

The 67 research labs in the West Wing are accessed by corridors along the exterior of the building, a design that allows relatively generous amounts of natural light into each laboratory. Faculty offices are also located on each floor. Outside sun screens on the building's west side diminish the amount of heat that enters the building in the summer and increases the amount of heat entering in the winter.

Between 200 and 300 people ultimately will work in the West Wing, according to Andrews, who said each lab can accommodate up to five employees. Andrews said all the faculty members who will be working in the West Wing are newly recruited researchers who could not have been accommodated in the older portion of the building.

Since construction of the West Wing addition began in 1992, vehicular traffic on Pierce Drive north of Asbury Circle and on Means Drive between Pierce Drive and the Dobbs Center parking lot has been prohibited. Ed Medlin, director of the Emory Police Department, is chairing a committee that will make recommendations on traffic flow and access for those streets. The committee includes representatives from the School of Medicine, Campus Life and Parking and Community Services. Medlin said he expects the committee to make a recommendation this month.

--Dan Treadaway