Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Administrative Center
The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), a bureau of the Smithsonian Institution (SI), has been actively engaged in scientific research in Panama since 1923. Since the early 1960´s STRI´s headquarters have been located at the Earl F. Tupper Center, a 3 hectare wooded hill site in the neighborhood of Ancon, Panama City. STRI facilities include administrative offices, laboratories, an extensive scientific library, conference center, restaurant and bookstore, serving a staff of 35 resident scientists, some 900 visiting scientists, administrative personnel and public.
The facilities were developed over a period of three decades as a response to ever increasing institutional space and program requirements, although critical site safety, security and accessibility issues were not always consistently dealt with, and in the years following the World Trade Center attacks of 2001, it was determined that U.S. Federal Government (of which the Smithsonian Institution is an agency) safety, security and accessibility requirements were not being adequately met at the site. In 2008 ENSITU, S.A. was contracted by SI/STRI to study these critical issues and to resolve functional deficiencies that had been observed and documented.
The proposal that emanated from that study includes the re-design of existing roadways, public and staff parking, gateways, perimeter security fence, covered public and staff pedestrian access routes, outdoor area lighting, a new “campus” center, additional elevators at the main administration building and a major landscaping project. The first phase of the work entails the construction of the new perimeter fence, a new main entrance, staff and public parking, roadway upgrades and lighting that will bring the site into compliance with both Panamanian and U.S. government requirements.
The architecture of the perimeter fence and the main entrance portal responds to strict security requirements while retaining an aesthetic consonant with the exuberant tropical landscape of the site. Both structures are built with steel slats which simultaneously provide a high level of security and visibility into and outward from the site. The proposed landscape improvements are intended to provide a more dense and varied vegetation through the addition of new native species while retaining visibility to ensure security.