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ISB Mum on Permit for Renovations to Former Merck Rosetta Research Center Building

By Alex Philippidis

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Institute for Systems Biology isn't discussing a renovation project planned for the former Merck Rosetta Research Center building in Seattle's South Lake Union Section, for which the institute was issued a construction permit along with its architect earlier this month.

According to details of the construction permit posted by the city Department of Planning and Development, nearly 100,000 square feet of the 133,000-square-foot 401 Terry Ave. N. will see "interior tenant improvements with structural modifications to 1st, 3rd and 4th floors" that include "chang(ing) use of portion of existing office to R&D labs."

However, lab space will account for less than one-third, or 29,761 square feet, of the total project, while most of the space, 58,876 square feet, will be used as offices. Plans additionally call for a 4,058-square-foot conference room, storage and hazardous materials areas, and an enclosed parking area of 43,195 square feet

The project's value was listed at $8 million.

"At this time, we have no comment on this project," Sean Clisham, ISB's director of facilities and operations, told GenomeWeb Daily News.

ISB was listed as an applicant for the permit, issued July 1, along with an architect from Perkins+Will. B N Builders of Seattle was listed as contractor on the project, which was the topic of a July 13 pre-construction conference designed to inform applicants of Seattle's geotechnical and structural code requirements, according to city records.

The building sits about 3 miles south of the institute's current headquarters, within the city on the north shores of Lake Union.

Merck vacated 401 Terry Ave. N. late last year by shutting the operations of its Rosetta Research Center, which at its peak had some 300 employees. Merck gained control of the building in 2001, when it acquired Rosetta Inpharmatics, founded in 1996 to design and implement DNA microarray gene expression technologies. Rosetta's founders included ISB President and Co-Founder Leroy Hood; as well as Leland Hartwell, president and director of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle; and Sage Bionetworks President Stephen Friend.

Also last year, Merck found buyers for two components of the Rosetta operations, selling off its Rosetta Bioinformatics unit to Microsoft, and Rosetta's gene expression laboratory for $9.75 million in cash to Covance, which entered into a contract to sell genomic analysis services to Merck for $145 million over five years.

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