If you watched the new Cortex One building go up last year, you might have thought, Oh no, another prefab, tilt-up concrete building, and one more enduring signal that the region remains committed to mediocrity in the design department. But that's all wrong. The Center of Research, Technology & Entrepreneurial Exchange is a well-conceived, beautifully executed modernist building that takes prefabricated technology and pushes it forward from simple serviceability to the realm of architecture. Its south and north faades, in tilting out into space, pay homage to their techno parents. Inside, light plays magical games. The building addresses the neighborhood and the city with authority and originality, and it reveals itself on all sides as a place for conducting the serious business of science. All this delivers to the building's owners, its biotech tenants-on-the-grow and the wider community a facility operating not only as a utilitarian vessel but also as an expression of optimism and sophistication. All that, and it's all green too, with a list of LEED points as lengthy as it is impressive. Credit where credit is due: The 165,000-square-foot brand-new landmark is a cooperative effort of Cortex, Washington University, Saint Louis University, UMSL, the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Foundation. Forum Studio was the architect; Clayco Construction Co., a pioneer in the development of tilt-up construction, was builder.
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