FORM on Design: Exploring the Biophilia Hypothesis in Florida

The University of Florida's Clinical Translational Research Building (CTRB), designed by Perkins+Will, takes cues from the biophilia hypothesis, which have created a structure optimally suited for the people who populate it. Image courtesy Perkins+Will.

The University of Florida’s Clinical Translational Research Building (CTRB), designed by Perkins+Will, takes cues from the biophilia hypothesis, which have created a structure optimally suited for the people who populate it. Image courtesy Perkins+Will.

Inspired by principles of the biophilia hypothesis—the inherent human affinity for natural systems and processes—the University of Florida Clinical Translational Research Building (CTRB), fully incorporates the environmental forces of its site, both natural and manmade. Today, the project’s architectural spearhead, Perkins+Will’s design director Pat Bosch, talks with us about the ins and outs of creating the carbon-neutral structure, which provides sustainable healing, working and educational environments for its inhabitants.

Are the ideas behind the biophilia hypothesis particularly suited to green design?
Green design is about sustaining life and healing. Research on biophilic design, particularly in healthcare/clinical facilities shows positive health outcomes by exposing building users to the regenerative and balancing effects of nature. Biophilia plays a crucial role in restorative architecture, which is a core component of green design.

Were the clients very familiar with the biophilia hypothesis, or was it something you educated them about?
The client was very knowledgeable about the biophilia hypothesis and the essence of translational research and its premises. The university supported our mission and vision for the building environment; taking drivers from biophilia and incorporating healthy building practices was seamless.

How exactly were the wetlands and woodlands incorporated into the design of the project?
Connection to the natural assets around the site was one of the design drivers of the project. The south wing of the building opens to the Wilmot Garden, bringing the lush landscape scene into the research spaces. The stormwater collection replicates the hydrological cycle, by providing a detention pond that filters, stores and transfers the water that falls on the site to the ground.

What are some of the building’s notable sustainable features?
Underfloor Air Distribution, high-efficiency, dimmable fluorescent lighting coupled with sensors for daylighting harvesting, rainwater and condensate water reuse for flushing toilets and urinals, 44 kW photovoltaic array, reclaimed water for irrigation, high-efficiency plumbing fixtures, reduced PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) used for piping, 100% LED site lighting, and high-performance glazing.

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