Tx Children Hos03

Duncan Neurological Research Institute

Balancing stability and artistry

Project Facts

Location Houston, Texas
Owner Texas Children’s Hospital
Size 400,000 SF
Status Completed 2010
Certifications LEED Silver


Engineering a statement piece for the sprawling Texas Medical Center was no small task, but the experienced Walter P Moore team was up for the challenge. The Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute is the world’s first basic research building to focus on children’s brain structures, developmental patterns, and neurological diseases. This pioneering development called for an iconic 13-story, twisted stairwell tower, intentionally reminiscent of a double-helix DNA strand. To accomplish this feat, Walter P Moore engineered an innovative method for stabilizing an inherently flexible design to bring this artistic vision to life. 

Tx Children Hos08

About the project

The Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute’s signature twisted tower is supported by columns that rotate along a 15-foot radius at a degree every four feet in height. These distinctive columns not only support the tower’s unique design but also play a crucial role in distributing lateral forces across each floor. This ingenious build allows for the use of smaller columns, optimizing space and functionality within the facility.

The building’s innovative concrete structural system features reinforced concrete columns, beams, slabs, and a matte foundation that create effective resistance of lateral loads and enhance overall stability. The concrete frames within the structure further increase its stiffness, resulting in an impressive reduction of vibrations to just 2,000 MIPS. 

A key to the project’s success was the close collaboration of members within Walter P Moore’s experienced team members—not unlike that of the tower’s own resident researchers.