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A catalyst for collaboration: UT Health Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies

Our next-generation approach to The Barshop Institute aligns with their urgent mandate to accelerate the pace of scientific progress.

The Barshop Institute has earned an international reputation as one of the top institutions in the country for research on longevity and aging studies. Originally located at the Texas Research Park, the Barshop Institute was relocated by UT Health to its Greehey Campus to encourage greater engagement among the campus research community.

UT Health San Antonio
San Antonio, Texas
109,600 SF
Completed 2020

Modularity to Maximize Flexibility in Lab Configuration

The building interior leverages modular planning throughout to allow for flexibility as research needs change over time. Open laboratories, with moveable casework and utility connections in the ceilings, enable researchers to expand bench space and reconfigure labs to accommodate new equipment. Holding rooms and procedure rooms in the vivarium are modularly sized and equipped with the same service connections in the ceilings to reconfigure rooms to support test subjects (rats and mice). “Building systems in this complex facility required meticulous attention to coordination detail, and direct responsiveness to our client stakeholders,” adds Briana Gutierrez, “both of which bring out our best skills as a team.”

Creating a Collaborative Bridge

A major building feature, an open-air bridge across Floyd Curl Drive, connects Barshop and the South Texas Research Foundation, enabling direct collaboration – a major goal expressed by the UT Health San Antonio administration. The exterior design of the building responds sympathetically to surrounding campus architecture – brick and metal panel from the South Texas Research Facility (STRF) and stucco from the Medical Arts and Research Building (MARC) and the Center for Oral Healthcare and Research. Making the Barshop unique among its neighbors, prominent exhaust stacks signal research and laboratory activity.

An Atmosphere of Transparency and Sharing

“Client directive suggested a break with tradition in lab spaces – departing from enclosed labs ‘buried’ within the building,” explains Ariel Chavela. “We responded by designing abundant natural light into research workspaces.” Interior windows between the laboratories and corridor write-up areas allow natural light to filter into the center of the floor plate, creating an atmosphere of transparency. Another purposeful intervention to support team engagement: collaboration spaces of varied sized spaces occur at corridor intersections. These pockets of space adjacent to the circulation path create informal opportunities for research staff to meet up by chance and share impromptu conversations. “Intuitively, you sense the design intention of the building, to build engagement within the organization and with the campus community, through its experiential qualities,” notes Mike Lanford.

Project Team


Associate Architect | TreanorHL
Structural | IES
MEP | Shah Smith
Civil | IES
Landscape | Coleman & Associates
IT/Tech | COMBS Consulting Group
Cost | Vermeulens
Code/Life Safety | Jensen Hughes

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