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The Science Center is seeking to break ground by the end of this year on a new building, estimated at $80 million, that will house office and lab space. With the addition, the center will be closer to realizing its goal of adding 1.85 million square feet in University City.

The 12-story structure — expected to be completed in May 2012 —will run between 250,000 and 280,000 square feet at 3737 Market St. It is being designed by ZGF Architects with an assist by UJMN Architects of Philadelphia.

It will sit next to a building at 3711 Market St. that the Science Center constructed and opened in 2008, said Jeanne Mell, spokeswoman at the Science Center. The site is currently a surface parking lot owned by the research institution.

This project is fulfilling in part ambitious plans laid out four years ago by the Science Center to more than double its size. The plan aims to firmly establish the Science Center as a premier urban research park on the East Coast that can accommodate and cater to fledgling biotechnology, high-tech and other early-stage companies and give them a place to grow into thriving businesses.

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