The design process began in 2016, while the construction started in 2018, and was finally completed in 2022. The 45,000 square meters building with three underground floors and five upper levels is located in the residential district of Morumbi, in the south zone of São Paulo city. Over $700 million was invested.
In the process to become LEED Gold certified, the fully automated project had Perkins&Will to assume the functions of educational, laboratory and health planning, technical responsibility and monitoring of construction works. The global architecture and design firm with 28 studios worldwide selected the São Paulo studio to lead the process, with support from the Miami studio. To fulfill this responsibility, Lara Kaiser, the Operations Director and Healthcare Design Leader at Perkins&Will’s São Paulo studio was brought on in 2016.
“This project allowed us to consolidate excellence in the healthcare architecture sector, which did not exist in this way in Brazil, although it is Perkins&Will’s global core business,” summarizes Kaiser.
The design is by Safdie Architects, based in Boston, USA. The construction management was carried out by Arcadis, present in more than 70 countries, having as general contractor the firm Racional Engenharia, which holds the largest portfolio of LEED-certified buildings in the country. The landscape design is by Isabel Duprat, with furniture by Guto Índio da Costa and an art panel by Cláudio Tozzi.
The program covers areas of medical and nursing education, with classrooms, simulation facilities, research laboratories focused on molecular biology, bioengineering, nanotechnology, drug research and clinics, in addition to an auditorium for up to 400 people, as well as a restaurant and operational support areas. Flexibility was one of the main premises, considering the need to adapt to new technologies and the pace of expansion of Einstein’s teaching modalities, which currently cover undergraduate and graduate programs, medical residency, technical courses, training and events such as conferences and workshops.
Full size mockup
All the professionals involved participated in the design of the building from the beginning, with periodic meetings that ensured more cohesive solutions and greater quality control, including regular trips to Boston and São Paulo. One of the main innovations was the creation of a mockup built in Germany to simulate the conditions of the vaulted glass roof structure installed over the central atrium. The representation was created with the same height as the real building in order to simulate the accurate sensation of the sunlight. The fritted glass with a pattern of dots (that are more dense and opaque in areas of greater insolation) allowed to reduce solar heat gain and ensure uniform thermal comfort, delicately filtering sunlight. The green roof also contributes to temperature control.
The mockup also allowed testing frames, finishes, facades, classroom design, furniture, joinery and even sanitary parts. Although it ends up extending the project schedule, the resource has important advantages, as it works as a laboratory.
“The mockup is an opportunity to revisit concepts,” says Kaiser. “For architects, it makes it possible to understand and mitigate problems in the work; for engineering, it makes it possible to anticipate project challenges and test suppliers; for the client, it is easier to understand exactly what was contracted and confirm the estimated costs.”
The acoustics of the atrium was another concern, as it is surrounded by open rooms and common areas. Thus, acoustic tests were carried out in Boston. The same happened with the concrete, which exact color demanded a series of experiments to obtain the final result.
Under the roof, in the center of the atrium, a large garden with exuberant species brought the interior design to life. The initiative demanded the creation of a plant nursery where the species spent two years getting acclimated before being transferred to their final destination. The work was supported by the team of British horticultural consultant Sue Minter and inspired academic works on the subject.
Natural sunlight underground
In order to establish a harmonious implantation in the midst of a predominantly residential landscape, the educational center assumed a horizontal setting, while reaching the maximum size limit allowed for the terrain. Even so, the program’s complexity required transforming part of the basement into work and permanence areas.
A 5 meters deep excavation allowed the entry of natural lighting below ground level, surrounding the windows with a green slope. The exterior design follows the same premise as the interior design, reaffirming the possibility of creating an oasis of greenery amidst the concrete, with vast natural lighting.