The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation will unveil plans today for a $125 million research tower combining high technology with low energy. The 185,000-square-foot tower will feature 24 wind turbines designed like the double-helixes of DNA, solar panels and expanses of natural light. Together, they are expected to decrease electricity usage by up to one-third.
"This tower will be the first medical research facility anywhere to harness the wind to help power its labs,” said Dr. Stephen Prescott, president of OMRF. "It will be a model of energy efficiency and resource preservation.” He said the design sends an important message. "It’s a statement about being forward-looking and state-of-the-art in everything we do,” he said. "We want to show we are trying to be innovative in every part of our organization.” The turbines have a unique design being patented by Synergy California, said Reinhold Ziegler, a partner in the company and the turbines’ designer. The turbines — to be built into the top of the structure — are soundless and shrouded in materials that accelerate the speed of the wind to double the output. Solar panels are incorporated in the design. From fundraising, OMRF has $51 million of the $125 million needed to build and equip the structure, and to recruit dozens of top scientists and technicians. Construction is expected to start in several months, with an opening date of early 2011.