Van Andel Institute Cuts Ribbon on $178 Million Expansion

Rafael Vinoly-designed building creates capacity for 550 new jobs and expanded cancer and neurodegenerative disease research, features the latest in intelligent building design, and adds to West Michigan’s burgeoning life sciences sector

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., December 7, 2009 /PRNewswire/ – On December 8, Van Andel Institute (VAI) cuts the ribbon on its eight-story, $178 million, 240,000 square foot Phase II expansion. The expanded facility creates economic and scientific opportunities both for VAI and West Michigan’s burgeoning life sciences sector and adds to the more than $1 billion investment in infrastructure already in place along Grand Rapids’ Medical Mile. When operating at capacity, the expansion will support a $125 million annual research operation that expands the number of laboratories from the current 18 to more than 50, and provides the capacity for 550 additional jobs.

Phase II nearly triples current laboratory space and promises to significantly increase the Institute’s capacity to impact human health through an expansion of its current basic and translational cancer research, and an expanded commitment to neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s through an endowed chair and the new $4.2 million Jay Van Andel Parkinson Research Laboratory. This increased capacity is enhanced by a number of key partnerships including an alliance and affiliation agreement with the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) of Phoenix, announced earlier this year, and expanded research opportunities provided by the new regional medical school, the Michigan State University (MSU) College of Human Medicine, which opens in 2010 on an adjacent site.

“The buildings that rise along Grand Rapids’ Medical Mile stand as a testament to our community’s ability to unite and work together,” said Chairman and CEO David Van Andel. “Now is the time to harness that ability to another challenge: to fill those buildings with the most capable individuals who will enable West Michigan to take its place as a leader among emerging life sciences sectors.”

“At Van Andel Institute, our goal is ambitious but clear. By recruiting the very best minds and the most motivated scientists to this facility, and working unceasingly, we hope to spare this and future generations the ravages of debilitating disease, and to end the pain and suffering that too often touches our lives,” added Van Andel.

“The research and recruitment ability the Phase II expansion provides will have a dramatic impact toward understanding disease and improving patient care,” said Dr. Jeffrey Trent, VARI President and Research Director. “Our increased research capacity coupled with our local, national, and international collaborations in basic, translational, and clinical research greatly increases the likelihood of discovering new ways to treat patients.”

The new facility also reflects VAI’s dual mission of biomedical research carried out by Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) and science education undertaken by Van Andel Education Institute (VAEI). Phase II labs will be utilized by students of VAI Graduate School, a graduate program designed to prepare Ph.D. scholars in cell and molecular genetics relevant to human disease, which matriculated its first students in 2007.

Laboratory space will also be utilized by faculty of the MSU College of Human Medicine, which will include five research clusters: cancer, obesity, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and neurobiology. The presence of the College of Human Medicine encourages collaboration with VARI researchers and provides a large boost to the region’s development as a center of biomedical research and technology.

“Van Andel Institute’s Phase II expansion enhances an already impressive research program and adds to West Michigan’s significant investment in life sciences infrastructure,” said Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon. “Through the collaborative efforts of VAI, the MSU College of Human Medicine and others, I am confident that this regional initiative will have a major impact on translating cutting-edge biomedical discoveries into improved treatments for patients.”

The Van Andel Institute building was designed by New York-based Rafael Vinoly Architects PC and intended to be constructed in two phases. The façade of Phase II mimics the cascading roofs and windows of the current Phase I building, which was completed in 2000 and evokes the rapids of the Grand River, which flows through downtown Grand Rapids. Rafael Vinoly’s broad portfolio of award-winning work includes the Tokyo International Forum, the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia, and a much-publicized proposal for the World Trade Center site.

As in the case of Phase I, the glass roof design and open plan of Phase II offer abundant natural light, a unique open laboratory layout, and flexible laboratory and meeting spaces. The expansion also offers enhancements such as a 90-seat conference center and a 100-seat cafeteria, a demonstration lab for visitors to view research in progress, an interactive Discovery Wall, an expanded library, interior design that reflects the diversity of the Institute, and numerous “green” features.

Consistent with the region’s emphasis on green building – Grand Rapids leads in the nation in per capita Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) – certified buildings and ranks eighth in the nation in total number – Phase II will become one of just a handful of medical research laboratories in the Midwest to attain LEED certification. The new building and the construction process feature such energy-efficient mechanisms as: photovoltaic panels to reduce energy demands during summer, a heat recovery system to reduce heating demand, low-flow water fixtures that reduce water usage by 30%, 33,000-gallon rainwater storage tanks to further reduce demand for potable water, the recycling of over 95% of construction waste, and the usage of locally-manufactured materials in the production process. Intelligent building design features include CO2 sensors throughout the building that detect the presence of people and automatically adjust room temperature.

The construction of Phase II provided more than 1,800 local building jobs between the project groundbreaking in April of 2007 and completion. The majority of the project team was composed of Grand Rapids-based businesses. In addition to Rafael Vinoly Architects PC, the Phase II project team included Owen-Ames-Kimball Co., The Hunt Construction Group, Culhane & Fahrenkrug Consulting, LLC, URS, Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber, Materials Testing Consultants, and CommTech Design.

About Van Andel Institute

Established by Jay and Betty Van Andel in 1996, Van Andel Institute (VAI) is an independent research and educational organization based in Grand Rapids, Mich., dedicated to preserving, enhancing and expanding the frontiers of medical science, and to achieving excellence in education by probing fundamental issues of education and the learning process. VARI, the research arm of VAI, is dedicated to probing the genetic, cellular and molecular origins of cancer, Parkinson and other diseases and working to translate those findings into effective therapies. This is accomplished through the work of over 200 researchers in 18 on-site laboratories, in laboratories in Singapore and Nanjing, and in collaborative partnerships that span the globe. For additional information, visit:

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CONTACT: Joe Gavan, Vice President, Communications of Van Andel Institute, +1-616-234-5390,

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