Easily identified by its “disruptive” glass façade, the Pennovation Center is a groundbreaking incubator space developed by the University of Pennsylvania to foster start-ups. Situated on a 23-acre site along the Schuylkill River and adjacent to Penn’s campus, the center contains 62,000 SF of state-of-the-art laboratory and office space.
Ballinger engineers worked hand-in-hand with design architect HWKN and architect-of-record KSS Architects to transform a former DuPont paint testing facility into the centerpiece of Pennovation Works, Penn’s innovation district.
Repurposing the building posed unique engineering challenges. Although offering flexible workspace to entrepreneurs isn’t new, Pennovation also offers lab tenants wet and dry labs and shared lab-support equipment. The systems design allows lab space to be reconfigured based on evolving needs and new tenants. The signature steel north façade demanded complex structural engineering. Tucked into the interior angles are bleacher seating, a board room, and special event spaces.
The building inspires creativity within: through shared amenities that promote spontaneous interaction, a “rough and ready” industrial character equipped for robotics testing, and extensive use of transparency to connect occupants to each other, to investors, and to the outside. The design and structure deliver on the owner’s desire to make Pennovation “the coolest place in town.”
Specific engineering features include:
- Variable refrigerant flow system to maximize tenant temperature control
- Flexible, modular wet laboratories
- 96% efficient condensing boiler perimeter radiation system
- Dual-wheel energy recovery wheel ventilation system
- Venturi valve room pressurization controls
- LEED Gold