Culture / Newsy

Houston Gets a New High-Tech Medical Innovation Center With Its Own Sprawling Park

Rare Collaboration to Drive Biomedical Breakthroughs

BY // 04.23.18

An ambitious new 30-acre collaborative research campus is headed to the Texas Medical Center — and it brings futuristic visions of life-changing discoveries. The cutting-edge project aims to set Houston up as a champion of new biomedical breakthroughs.

Like other medical-centered cities, Houston is getting in on the “clustering” model.

Five institutions —Texas Medical Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas A&M University Health Science Center, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center — are combining forces on the new TMC3. The new research campus is geared around fostering innovation, forming a much-needed physical bridge between Houston’s clinical and research hubs.

The new TMC3 will be located south of the existing Texas Medical Center, between South Braeswood Boulevard and Old Spanish Trail.

“I believe that decades from now, we’re going to look back at this historic event and really understand how much it has changed the way in which we behave, and the way in which we compete in the world,” Texas Medical Center president and CEO Bill McKeon said at a press conference unveiling the plans for the new research center on Monday.

The thrust of TMC3 is collaboration — between researchers in the top of their field and preeminent industry players — all made possible by the cooperation between five major institutions.

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“With researchers working hand-in-hand alongside industry titans on this new campus, the Texas Medical Center as a whole will further advance its position as a preeminent global player in life sciences,” McKeon said.

This is the first time these institutions have ever co-created and co-existed in a space on such a major scale. Plans for the project began four years ago. The biomedical hub will pioneer many medical advancements, including genomics, regenerative medicine, data science and more.

Representatives from the powerhouse founding institutions spoke alongside Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Governor Greg Abbott at the unveiling press conference.

Houston’s Cutting-Edge Medical Future

With groundbreaking anticipated in 2019, and visions of project completion in 2022, the dawn of Houston’s new medical future isn’t that far off.

The centerpiece of the game-changing, 1.5 million-square-foot campus will be a multi-story facility that houses shared core labs, commercial space and retail. It’ll be iconic, shaped like a double helix. This unique design is only fitting for a center that’s sure to impact the study of genomics, a doctor at the press conference noted.

New York’s High Line landscape architect James Corner will be responsible for the DNA strand-inspired design. Helix Park will feature a rooftop that soars 60 feet above the campus, looking out over the Houston skyline and the Texas Medical Center. The park will be nearly 20 acres, featuring walking and running trails, along with gardens.

1 TMC3
The double helix building will have three tiers and connect all the buildings on the campus.

Texas Medical Center reversed its land covenants, which were previously designated as nonprofit land, to allow for this transformational project.

Collaborative space will total 250,000 square feet. Commercial and retail space will account for 125,000 square feet, and shared research facilities will also take up 125,000 square feet. A 19-story, 410- room TMC Hotel and Conference Center with 50,000 square feet for meeting space will be decked out with high tech options, like the ability to stream live surgery taking place in an operating room.

A third party economic impact study by Silverlode Consulting forecasts that TMC3 could drive $5.2 billion into Houston’s economy and create roughly 26,000 jobs.

The press conference was held at Third Coast Restaurant, a fitting place to unveil the upcoming international nexus of research and commercialization. The 3 in TMC3  is a nod to Houston emerging as the Third Coast of great innovation, joining the  East and West Coasts.

Texas Medical Center has contributed $40 million for the double helix portion of the project The remaining four institutions will provide $36.45 million for the new center. In time, each of the founding institutions will have their own individual building in the complex, which they will pay for themselves.

This news comes less than two weeks after McKeon and Mayor Sylvester Turner announced the Midtown Innovation District. Houston is moving toward a new future. Of course, the Texas Medical Center is a major driver of this push.

“The new 30-acre research campus will provide our top medical minds with the resources to remain at the forefront of the health care industry,” Abbott said. “This cutting-edge facility will not only generate thousands of jobs, but it will solidify Texas’ position as an international leader in biomedical research.”

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