Building a Workplace for True Team Science

Knight Cancer Research Building

Oregon Health & Science University

Oregon Health and Science University’s Knight Cancer Institute sought a state-of-the-art cancer research facility that would support and facilitate a team science approach. The Knight Cancer Research Building will be a key element in recruiting approximately 250 of the world’s leading cancer researchers and physicians as they lead the charge in curing cancer.


320,000 sf


Portland, OR

Year Complete



LEED Platinum

Tradeline: OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Offers Team Science Approach to Early Detection Research
Tradeline, January 31, 2018

Collaboration‑based Lab Design Furthers Cancer Research
Lab Manager, June 18, 2020

2019 Engineering Excellence Honor Award — ACEC Oregon

2019 First Place Healthcare — DJC Oregon TopProjects

  • Contractor

    McCarthy/Andersen Joint Venture

  • Civil Engineer

    KPFF Consulting Engineers

  • Structural Engineer

    Catena Engineers

  • MEP Engineer

    PAE Consulting Engineers

  • Landscape Architect


  • Lab Planner

    Jacobs Consultancy

  • Workplace Strategist

    B+H Architects

  • Lighting Designer

    Luma Lighting

  • Acoustical Engineer

    Listen Acoustics, Inc.

  • Sustainability Consultant

    Brightworks Sustainability

  • Energy Modeling

    Integral Group

  • Wind Engineer


  • Building Envelope Expert

    The Facade Group

  • Kitchen Consultant

    Ricca Newmark

  • Commissioning Agent

    Heery International

  • Vibration Engineer

    Colin Gordon Associates

I’m thrilled to see team science realized in this building. As a researcher myself, I appreciate the vision to create a space that encourages the sharing of information and ideas. This science building is unlike any other at OHSU. Tiffani Howard, Ph.D, Project Liaison

Breaking Down Silos to Promote Collaboration

Reducing the number of research floors and increasing the size of each floor allowed us to incorporate communicating stairs, which form functional and visual connections between floors and between research teams. The experimentalist laboratory and office suites are organized in interconnected “neighborhoods.”

These neighborhoods retain the modest scale researchers prefer, while providing the flexibility to reallocate space as needed. The extensive use of glass walls creates visual connections that reinforce the collective identity of the Knight Cancer Institute and allow more daylight into the building.

Open and Transparent

Workspaces are visually connected via extensive use of glass partitions. Quiet spaces allow researchers to escape the excitement of this environment for more reflective, private work. A central kitchen provides opportunity for social interaction during meal time, and an intellectual lounge with an adjoining roof terrace is a great place for researchers to relax and share discoveries. Additionally, casual seating throughout the building facilitates the chance encounters that help create a culture with a collective goal.

Healthy Materials

As a facility focused on treating cancer, the LEED Platinum building was designed to meet the highest health and wellness standards. The materials selected are toxin-free and carcinogen-free. The team utilized a first of its kind matrix that maps product choices by sourcing, manufacturing, certification, and chemical content, with a special focus on identifying the source of carcinogens in the built environment. Referencing standards from the Living Building Challenge, IARC, and GreenScreen Benchmark, the unique evaluation tool served to educate the owner and design team on the impact that our decisions have on occupant health, as well as further the mission of the Institute to end cancer as we know it.

Spaces for People

A rooftop terrace and exterior balconies capitalize on stunning views to the Willamette River and the Cascade Mountains beyond. A 200-seat auditorium and additional meeting rooms make up a ground-floor conference center for a wide variety of events. A retail café and other amenities create a more public zone, which will contribute to the long-term development of the research campus.

Integrating Collaborative Workplace Strategies

SRG incorporated collaborative workplace strategies directly into the programming and design process of KCRB. B+H Advance Strategy was a critical consultant in the effort to understand the nature and execution of the organization’s work. Members of the SRG and B+H teams shadowed 17 scientists from five different Knight labs throughout the course of a typical day, observing and recording the scientists’ activities and noting precisely how they engaged with their environment. This observational work was supplemented by a survey that asked respondents how they use space, what they do, how they collaborate, and how they regard assigned and shared spaces. Additional questions tested receptivity to trends in the workplace for knowledge workers and assessed what new spaces and services might ease their work life, making them more effective in their primary research work.

Collaborative Project Delivery

An integrated project team that included representatives from OHSU, the Knight Cancer Institute, SRG’s design team, engineering consultants, Andersen/McCarthy Construction and a number of construction trade partners worked together to develop the design.

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The team was colocated in a Big Room adjacent to the site to enhance communication and to build a culture of trust and transparency in decision making.

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Integrated project delivery tools such as pull planning were utilized to keep the team on the same page and complete the project on schedule.

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