WUSTL

University will anchor new CORTEX building

By Diane Duke Williams
Robert Boston

​A ​hard-hat tour May 16 highlighted construction at 4240 Duncan Ave., a former telephone factory being converted by Wexford Science & Technology into a laboratory and research facility in the CORTEX bioscience district. The university will be the anchor tenant in the building, renamed @4240.

​Washington University in St. Louis will be the anchor tenant in a $73 million laboratory and research facility projected to open at the end of the year in the CORTEX bioscience district.

The conversion of this facility, a former telephone factory at 4240 Duncan Ave., kicks off phase two of the CORTEX district. The building, recently renamed @4240, is being renovated by Wexford Science & Technology, a national research park developer in Baltimore.

Wexford collaborates with universities, research institutions and health-care systems to build environments that integrate academic, corporate and entrepreneurial research and development. The company has developed eight other similar facilities in the United States.

CORTEX, a nonprofit organization, is a collaboration of Washington University, Saint Louis University, BJC Healthcare, the University of Missouri-St. Louis and the Missouri Botanical Garden. Its goal is to develop a 187-acre Central West End area into one of the nation’s leading research districts.

Robert Boston

Pictured are (from left): John P. Dubinsky, chairman of CORTEX; Dan Cramer, executive vice president of Wexford Science & Technology; Mayor Francis Slay; Hank Webber, Washington University's executive vice chancellor for administration; and Dougan Sherwood, director of Cambridge Innovation Center. The group participated in a tour of the newly renamed @4240 building.

The first phase of CORTEX created 950 jobs, and the second phase is expected to generate 1,400 more, according to Dennis Lower, CORTEX’s president and chief executive officer. He said the organization projects its efforts will create more than 11,000 office and research jobs in the next 25 years.

Several operating units of Washington University’s Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research will have a prominent presence in the building. The Office of Technology Management (OTM) will occupy an innovative, creative space in the old factory’s garage area on the first floor. The offices of Sponsored Research Services, Research Administration and Research Ethics and Compliance will be together in a second collaborative space.

Evan D. Kharasch, MD, PhD, vice chancellor for research, is excited about the @4240 project. “My teams are presently located in more than six separate locations, across several campuses of the university,” he said. “By moving to @4240, we will be located together for the first time, affording opportunities for better integration and service to faculty and creative new models for the university’s research infrastructure.”

Kharasch said that by moving into CORTEX, OTM is making an affirmative statement that it wants the university’s commercialization efforts in the heart of St. Louis’ biomedical research innovation center. “This gives us an optimal opportunity to commercialize university research technology and gives our students and trainees a sense of place and access to engage creatively with our industry, business and venture capital colleagues and partners,” he said.

Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) in Boston, one of the nation’s leading business and innovation incubators, will establish a start-up facility on the second floor of the building. This is CIC’s first innovation center outside of Boston.

Additionally, the School of Medicine’s Physicians Billing Service, Health Information Release Services and Streamline Referral group will be on the third floor of @4240.

Hank Webber, executive vice chancellor for administration, agrees that the university will see numerous benefits from its significant role in the @4240 building. “Our faculty, students and staff want to live in an economically vibrant region, and this building is expected to create about 450 high-tech jobs,” he said. “Our faculty and students also want to work in a region where they can commercialize their discoveries. CORTEX and CIC are a big part of the increasingly successful effort to make St. Louis a center for research commercialization.”

The renovations will meet the needs of research, biotechnology, innovation and science-based tenants. The design will maximize natural light by using large, industrial windows to provide daylight in all labs and offices. HOK is the project’s architect.

Wexford will register @4240 with the highest possible LEED certification based on significant restoration to the historical building and many sustainable design features, including energy-recovery ventilation, permeable pavements and high-performance windows.

The main entrance of @4240 will be moved from Duncan to Boyle Avenue to face the new CORTEX commons, a park-like space that will serve as a hub of the entire CORTEX district. The commons will include a landscaped plaza, and the CORTEX district soon will begin work on new streets, sidewalks, trees, lighting and public safety enhancements.