The University of Chicago

Grossman Institute for Neuroscience, Quantitative Biology and Human Behavior

This project required complete demolition of the 4th floor of the Surgery Brain Building (J4) formerly comprised of operating rooms and no exterior windows. The space was renovated into new, open-plan wet (including BSL2) and dry neuroscience laboratories to attract new researchers, and two animal (primate/rodent) laboratories specifically created for the Institute for Neuroscience director. Private offices, open office workstations, conference room, and reception spaces were also developed.

HERA’s renovation design solution addressed several challenges. Innovative positioning of support spaces enabled use of an efficient planning module within the existing wide structural system to maximize flexibility. The generic research labs have mobile casework and ceiling mounted quick-connect utilities to easily change, rearrange and adjust the space as needed. New glazing replaced existing stone panels bringing natural light into the labs.

HERA developed a unique approach to circulation and designed “landing zones” which display research, provide seating areas, and encourage informal interaction and collaboration among the researchers.

HERA met every milestone in the 20-week design schedule, and construction was completed ahead of schedule.

“HERA listened carefully to our special needs and came up with ideas that suited our requirements better than anything I had imagined. The new Institute space meets all our needs and looks impressive. The scientists using it appreciate the innovative collaboration areas and the efficient lab design, and I hear nothing but positive comments from visitors, who admire the creative layout and attractive space.”

John Maunsell, Ph.D., Director, Grossman Institute for Neuroscience


Chicago, Illinois


19,620 GSF


Programming, laboratory planning, design, equipment planning


Architrave, Ltd