Kevin Foskett, PhD
Professor Of Physiology
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700D Clinical Research Building
415 Curie Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19104
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Scientists thrived in iconic Penn labs
January 16, 2016
Dr. Foskett's January 15th Letter to the Editor of Philadelphia Inquirer
The Richards Medical Research Laboratory on the University of Pennsylvania campus drew architectural acclaim for designer Louis Kahn ("Back to the lab," Jan. 8). Research scientists are not different from anyone else regarding needs for privacy and "respite from the natural light." The "dirty secret" is that Kahn created spaces that were physically incompatible with the needs of the biomedical research that would be conducted there.
The scientists in Richards did not "flee in droves," although they did cover some of the windows with tinfoil (those were the days before computer printouts). For half a century, they created an appropriate physical environment that enabled them to perform cutting-edge biomedical research, including work that was honored with the Lasker Award and the National Medal of Science.
Richards was not a place where "people who had less prominence found themselves," as university architect David Hollenberg said. National Medal of Science winner Britton Chance was so fond of the building that he refused to let his portrait be moved out of it, even after a newer Stellar-Chance Laboratories was named in his honor.
J. Kevin Foskett, Chairman, Department of Physiology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, firstname.lastname@example.org