A string quartet and large portraits etched in glass of the family
whose name graces the Whitehead Biomedical Research Building greeted
the roughly 120 people who gathered to celebrate the opening of
Emorys newestand in many ways most exemplarybuilding.
Nearly three years and $81.3 million dollars after it broke ground
in the summer of 1999, the Whitehead Building opened officially
on April 2 with music in the atrium and a brief ceremony in the
auditorium. Afterward, visitors were given a chance to tour what
will be a jewel among Emorys facilities for many years.
We needed a living, breathing structure to attract and retain
the best researchers in the world, said Michael Johns, executive
vice president for health affairs, one of four Emory dignitaries
to speak at the dedication. You are in that building today.
Among Whiteheads eight floors and 325,000 square feet of
office and state-of-the art laboratory space are the departments
of cell biology, human genetics and physiology; two new entities,
the Neurodegenerative Disease Center and the Center for Medical
Genomics; and major research efforts in pulmonary and critical care
medicine, pathology and laboratory medicine, and digestive diseases.
Whitehead includes 150 faculty offices and 150 laboratory modules
that utilize the open lab concept; researchers have
large, flexible labs, offering easy access to the ideas of their
colleagues in many disparate disciplines. According to Thomas Lawley,
dean of the School of Medicine, collaborative research will be the
This means synergy, efficiency and the likelihood of new
discoveries on an accelerated timetable, he said.
As part of the dedication, President Bill Chace gave a brief history
of the Whitehead family, a story he called Emorys most
The Whiteheads, Joseph B. and Letitia Pate, and their sons, Joseph
Jr. and Conkey, spent many millions of dollars on philanthropic
efforts. Their money came from the fortune Joseph Sr. amassed through
his groundbreaking idea at the turn of the century to sell Coca-Cola
in bottles. Before Whiteheads ingenious idea, the drink had
only served in fountains.
Emory and its health care facilities were the recipients of much
of the familys generosity. The Whitehead family name is quite
familiar on campus, particularly in its medical areas; in addition
to the new building, the Whitehead name is attached to the surgical
pavilion at Emory Hospital, as well as a reception and conference
area within that pavilion, and the Joseph B. Whitehead Chair is
a chaired professorship in the Department of Surgery.
Other gifts to Emory from the Whitehead family and foundations
include scholarships, facility enhancements and several programs
for patient care, teaching and research.
They transformed this university in countless ways,
Chace said, this magnificent building being the latest example.
It is a masterpiece in every way.
Not only is the Whitehead Building groundbreaking in its research
facilities, but it also is environmentally sound in ways no Emory
buildingand few buildings anywherehave ever been.
The Whitehead Building is one just 13 buildings in the country
certified by the Leadership in Energy Environmental Design (LEED)
program. It is equipped with special heat-recovery wheels projected
to save an annual $100,000 in energy costs and condensate-recovery
units that could save 2.5 million gallons of water per year. Storm
water from the roof and plaza is collected by these units and used
for irrigation. With its many windows, natural light is available
to 90 percent of the buildings occupants, saving on electricity.
This building stands as a tribute to the familys collective
vision of a better, healthier and happier world, Chace said.
Eight trustees of the families varied foundations were on
hand to cut the ribbon that officially opened the building.
This is a great day in the life of this institution,
said Ben Johnson, chair of the Board of Trustees, who presided over
the dedication. This building will become a platform for generations
to come for translating biomedical research into making people healthy.