Duncan Neurological Research Institute


Texas Children’s Hospital


Size: 400,000 SF

Height: 13 stories

Parking: two levels below grade

Architect: Perkins + Will

Duncan Neurological Research Institute


The Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute’s home is designed to be flexible in the face of change. It is the world’s first basic research building to focus on children’s brain structures, developmental patterns, and neurological diseases. Its signature statement within the vast Texas Medical Center came as a 13-story, twisted stairwell tower, a metaphorical double-helix DNA strand.     

Flexibility was achieved, in part, by a concrete structural system with mild reinforced concrete columns, beams and slabs, and matte foundation. Concrete moment frames resist lateral loads. Concrete increased the structure’s stiffness, reducing vibration to 2,000 MIPS.

Columns rotating along a 15’ radius by a degree every four feet in height support the signature twisted tower. Elliptical beams between the leaning columns support the floors. The columns’ lateral forces are resolved at each floor to the main building, permitting small columns.

Key to the project’s success: close collaboration by team members—not unlike that of the tower’s resident researchers.