Roberts Center for Pediatric Research advances breakthrough discoveries

Philadelphia, PA, USA

An elite medical research institution at the renowned Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), the Roberts Center for Pediatric Research is the inaugural building in CHOP’s large-scale development on the east shoreline of the Schuylkill River. The tower furthers CHOP’s extraordinary mission and values with an inspiring home for the Center for Autism Research, Center for Data-Driven Discovery in Biomedicine, the Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics, and administrative offices. Surrounded by lush green public space, the tower brings a sleek and sophisticated presence to the skyline and a beacon of possibility in medical discovery and innovation.

Pelli Clarke & Partners was involved in the conceptual planning for phase two, as well as helped shape and develop the master plan concept for the area.
“Research is core to CHOP's mission, and growing CHOP's Research Institute is fundamental to our strategy and commitment to breakthroughs.” — Madeline Bell, president and CEO, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Driven by excellence in research and deep connection to community

Stretching across twenty-one floors, the tower’s collaborative floorplan gives medical scientists an innovative and dynamic space to conduct research that transforms children’s lives. The entrance lobby of the tower, awash in natural light, invites employees, visitors, and the public to connect in an uplifting gathering space and enjoy a gourmet café and shops.

The tower is a public gateway to the Schuylkill River Trail, a thirty-mile-long riverfront recreational path that runs from Center City Philadelphia to Parker Ford, Pennsylvania. South Street Plaza surrounds the tower, with vibrant gardens and native landscaping, extensive seating and gathering spaces, areas for children and families to play together, and quiet places to take a break in the fresh air. The Grand Stair connects the community and existing street grid to the Plaza and Promenade, providing expansive views of the river, CHOP’s central campus and the Philadelphia skyline.

At the tower’s base, panels of terra cotta are highlighted against a glass-and-steel façade. These clay-colored accents recall the brick structures of nearby buildings, weaving the Roberts Center into the neighborhood context.
Vertical aluminum light scallops reach from two sides of the tower’s crown, increasing in length as they stretch downward to join at a corner.
At night, these accents transform into a striking LED display controlled by patients at CHOP, bringing moments of joy and symbolizing the deep connection between the research center and hospital.

More About the Project

Project Team

Principal Collaborators

  • Architect of Record: Ballinger
  • Structural Engineer: Thornton Tomasetti
  • MEP: Ballinger

Project Information

  • Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Client: Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Size: 743,000 sq. ft. / 69,027 sq. m.
  • Height: 361 ft. / 110 m.
  • Completion: 2017
  • Certification: LEED Silver
  • Firm Role: Design Architect


  • 2017, Best Clinical Health Project, General Building Contractors Association (GBCA)
  • 2017, Award of Merit in Higher Education/Research—MidAtlantic, ENR
  • Principal Project Photography: Jeff Goldberg/ESTO