Philanthropy, Investment and the Pecuniary Architecture of Bioscience Laboratories

  • Sandra Kaji-O'Grady The University of Queensland, School of Architecture
Keywords: laboratory architecture, philanthropy, J. Watson, C. Venter


New buildings extract and solidify liquid capital, converting it into tangible assets the capital value of which is subject more to the dynamics of real estate and financial markets than it is to architectural fashions. Architecture, however, remains actively engaged in the circulation of capital by enabling pecuniary relationships. This paper is concerned specifically with the relationship between bioscience research organizations and funding bodies and the ways in which architecture functions to attract and influence niche circles of investors and philanthropists. Architecture’s role is revealed in the recent architectural commitments and financial activities of two biosciences research institutions: The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, New York and the J. Craig Venter Institute in La Jolla, California. The nostalgic architecture of the CSHL’s Hillside Campus mirrors the taste culture and lifestyles of the old money East Coast families who sit on the CSHL’s Board and fund its operations. The JCVI’s exploitation of an architecture of environmental sustainability, on the other hand, successfully targets a new breed of biotech entrepreneur.