As told by David Fitzpatrick, Scientific Director and CEO, Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience
From the start, this building had to say a lot about who we are and what we do.
The Max Planck Society is the most successful research organization in Germany. It is focused on understanding how the brain functions and ultimately producing the next generation of therapies and cures. So the first—and only—Max Planck Institute in the United States had to be excellent in every way. The science, the facilities and the architecture had to be first grade.
Creating a world-class research facility is a collaborative effort. Ours grew out of input from the State of Florida, Palm Beach County, Florida Atlantic University and the Max Planck Florida Corporation, so there were multiple stakeholders. JLL was awarded management of the project through a public procurement method simultaneously with the procurement of the architect and design team, and they were instrumental in keeping us on track with our goals—as well as excellent at change management as goals evolved.
A major goal was to create an environment that promotes interaction and collaboration. This is particularly important for an institute like this, which has been designed to bring together scientists who have different expertise and different approaches, but all have a common interest in understanding brain circuits.
Scientists need to cross-pollinate and work together, freely and easily, without physical barriers that shut them off or make a scientist hesitant to stop by a colleague’s office. So we created an open environment, with the centerpiece being a central atrium. It is a wonderful place to bring people together, whether to socialize or brainstorm, and it is key to the scientific success of this institute.
Another goal was sustainability. We originally planned to be LEED Certified. When JLL reviewed the project’s budget and sustainability goals, they instead encouraged us to target a higher level of certification. We shifted our focus to attaining LEED Silver. However, in the end, we even surpassed that by receiving LEED Gold, which far exceeded our initial expectations.
The construction actually came in $4 million under budget, thanks to tight project management. This allowed us to add tweaks and items that weren’t necessarily on our radar, but would make a real difference.
I am delighted with the results. We have an absolutely spectacular building. Everyone who walks in is in awe of the architecture. It is not only inspiring, but also conveys a sense of our mission. People who work here are proud to do their research in this building.