Ballinger worked with the University of Pennsylvania to transform Stemmler Hall, a 1970s era biomedical research and teaching facility in the heart of campus. After 40 years of servicing the University, annual energy costs were high for the 230,000 SF building and faulty systems and equipment required continual repair.
Ballinger designed a holistic, sustainable renovation to completely transform the building, providing new Class A laboratory space, and strategically replacing all building systems to significantly reduce ongoing energy and maintenance costs. Its critical location linking academic, research, and healthcare facilities, and a lack of swing space required that Stemmler Hall remain occupied during construction, adding considerable complexity to the project. Multiple phases of construction, sequenced tenant relocations, and numerous enabling endeavors enabled continuity of operation.
Ballinger’s planning and programming aided the University in meeting goals of increased spatial efficiency, flexibility, and capacity. At the building entry, a meandering series of public spaces were repurposed to better support student life. On lower levels, underutilized educational and administrative areas were converted into research space. Transformation of a pre-existing two-story lecture hall created new revenue-generating research laboratories and a freezer farm. Implementing an open lab concept was critical to improving utilization within the existing floorplate and increased the number of workstations by over 50%.
An important ambition of the project was to fulfill the University’s Climate and Sustainability Action Plan. High-efficiency building systems such as a neutral air-chilled beam system, dual heat recovery wheels, and demand-controlled ventilation were designed to reduce escalating energy costs. The exterior envelope was upgraded and the leaky roof was insulated and replaced. The building was certified LEED Gold and is now one of the most energy efficient research buildings on campus.