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Allen Institute Moves Into New State-of-the-Art Research Facility

Purpose-built life sciences building in South Lake Union corridor promotes big, team and open science

December 1, 2015 | Download PDF

Today the Allen Institute announced the opening of its new headquarters in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood, the city’s biotechnology hub. Located on the northwest corner of Mercer Street and Westlake Avenue North, the 270,000 square foot life sciences building is home to the Allen Institute for Brain Science and the Allen Institute for Cell Science.

“Twelve years ago, we began as a small office building with big ambitions to understand how the brain works,” said Paul. G. Allen, philanthropist and founder of the Allen Institute. “We started by building a map of the locations where all the genes in the mouse brain are expressed –something that had never been done before—and since then, our scientific goals have expanded dramatically.  The move to this new, state-of-the-art complex is the next step in our effort to make an even larger global impact on research into the brain.  I’m incredibly excited for what lies ahead at the Allen Institute and proud of the ground-breaking work being done by our growing and dedicated team.”

Architecture and design firm Perkins+Will designed the new facility around the Institute’s trademark approach to big, team and open science. Labs, offices and open work spaces are organized in a series of “petals” grouped around a six-story light-filled atrium. Cantilevered into the atrium are glass walled collaboration “pods” outfitted with soft seating and whiteboards for spontaneous meetings and discussions.

“The architecture of this building reflects who we are as an organization,” says Allan Jones, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of the Allen Institute. “Our unique operating model of team science, big science and open science combines the best qualities from the worlds of academia and biotech, using goals and milestones to ensure that our scientific investigations turn into useful resources for scientists around the world. The atmosphere in this building encourages the kind of cross-disciplinary interaction and collaboration that is integral to our success as an organization.”

Teams at the Allen Institute will grow during the next several years. Currently at nearly 300 full-time employees, the new facility will allow the Institute to expand to roughly 500 full-time employees. The Institute’s growth coincides with expanding scientific goals in brain science and cell science, including the expansion of the new Allen Cell Types Database, launched in May 2015, and the creation of the Animated Cell: a three-dimensional predictive model of cellular behavior.

“It has been a privilege to watch the Institute grow, and to witness the huge impact the Allen Institute for Brain Science’s research and its public resources have had on the broader neuroscience community,” says David Anderson, Ph.D., professor of biology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator at the California Institute of Technology, and Scientific Advisory Board member at the Allen Institute for Brain Science. “I look forward to the next phase of the Institute’s growth and productivity in its beautiful new facility with great anticipation, and with a deep appreciation for Mr. Allen’s generous and farsighted investment in science.”

About the Allen Institute

The Allen Institute is an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit medical research organization dedicated to answering some of the biggest questions in life science and accelerating research worldwide. Using the original guiding principles—team science, big science and open science—the Allen Institute generates useful public resources for researchers and organizations around the globe. The Allen Institute is a recognized leader in large-scale research with a commitment to an open science model. The Allen Institute for Brain Science launched in 2003 with a seed contribution from founder and philanthropist Paul G. Allen. Today, the Allen Institute is supported by a diversity of government, foundation and private funds to enable its projects. Given the Institute’s achievements, Mr. Allen committed an additional $300 million in 2012 for the first four years of the Allen Institute for Brain Science’s ten-year plan to further propel and expand its scientific programs, and launched the Allen Institute for Cell Science in 2014, bringing his total commitment to date to $1 billion.