Articles Tagged with: Pennovation

Occupancy models for dynamic discovery

Ballinger senior principal Jonathan Friedan, PE, LEEAP and studio leader Alexa Hansford, AIA, alongside University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s (UBMC) Dennis Cuddy, presented at Tradeline’s University Facilities for the Sciences and Advanced Technologies 2021 Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. Their talk, “Institute and entrepreneurial space occupancy models for dynamic research and technology programs,” examined four common facility models — departmental, multi-departmental, institutes, and innovation — and described how features from each were applied to UMBC’s Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building (ILSB).

A center for research, active learning, innovation, and inspiration, the 131,000 SF ILSB supports UMBC’s mission of student success and research discoveries. The ILSB was an investment in consolidated research infrastructure, an alternative to building department-specific projects throughout the campus. A competitive application process attracts cohorts from multiple specialties to come together for research under one roof. The building is designed to reinforce a collaborative, convergent environment that welcomes students and faculty, regardless of their study focus, to spark new approaches to discovery.

The ILSB features teaching, research, and collaborative spaces, all for collective use by building occupants. The building organization balances the safety and security priorities of research environments with the desire for teaching spaces that are vibrant, accessible, and transparent. Research and teaching are connected by a double-height central commons enlivened by artwork.

The engineering systems within the building apply best practices from buildings with diverse occupancy models. Energy efficient features include chilled beams and an innovative “air share” system. These strategies reduced energy use by 44% compared to similar buildings.

The building opened in 2019 and brought to life UMBC’s vision of “a community of scholars.” The collaborative research currently underway includes topics such as age-related disease and disparities, and 3D printing of integrated human tissue models.

Interior view of lab

Learn more about occupancy models through these examples: 

Departmental: a building dedicated to a single specialty. University of Wisconsin’s Chemistry Instructional Building was designed to accommodate the ever-increasing demand for foundational STEM courses, address the university’s desire to upgrade the existing infrastructure of their chemistry complex, and enable excellence in the field. The building is highly specialized and cannot be translated to suit the needs of another department.

Multi-Departmental: a building that balances the needs of multiple specialties within a single space. The design of George Washington University’s Science and Engineering Hall arranges laboratories and teaching spaces for different departments into “research neighborhoods” to encourage interdisciplinary partnerships. Leveraging the similarities between specialties and the building’s collaboration space allows students and faculty to collaborate in new ways and break down departmental silos.

Institutes: a highly specialized building designed to push the boundaries of scientific discovery and engage the public. The Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery was one of the most unique interdisciplinary research institutes of its time. The building accommodates a public institute, federally-funded team-based research, and on the private side, industry partnerships, commercialization and outreach to the community.

Innovation: a building that prioritizes start-up and entrepreneurial culture. Pennovation Center is a groundbreaking incubator space developed by the University of Pennsylvania that offers highly-flexible and accessible leased spaces to accommodate a variety of research. The co-location of multiple incubators leverages shared business resources.

The Pennovation Center: Q&A with Chief Structural Engineer Angela Fante

The 62,000 SF Pennovation Center is an incubator space developed by the University of Pennsylvania to foster tech start-ups.  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 a flexible laboratory and co-working office space.  Building operations and tenant occupancy started in Fall 2016 with positive reviews from the design and engineering community and the building’s occupants.

We caught up with Ballinger’s Chief Structural Engineer, Angela Fante, PE, SECB, LEED AP.

One of the building’s most striking features is the dramatic faceted glass outcrop.  Can you tell us about what went in to engineering that?

ANGELA FANTE:  Through collaboration with the architect and University, we were able to meet an incredibly complex structural challenge with an elegant solution. The addition of the north elevation ‘faceted façade’ had an immensely complex effect on the existing building frame.

It is not structured with cantilevers, a misnomer many are giving the north extension’s structure.

Pennovation exterior photo

If not a cantilever, what is it?

AF:  Because the architectural design required maintaining the same horizontal banding depth across the existing to new addition interface, there wasn’t enough depth to accommodate the structure needed to cantilever the addition.  Instead, we broke the north elevation into seven individual existing column frame elevations. From there, we designed new diagonal ‘column props’ and horizontal floor strut/tie beams, which impose either a horizontal tension or compression on the existing frame, at different levels throughout the geometry of the façade.

The effect on the frame was a series of ‘pushes and pulls’ on the existing building structure, none of which it was originally designed for when it was constructed in 1954.  (In that era, engineers barely considered wind and earthquake loading).

3D view of “pitch bleacher” structure

 How are those “pushes and pulls” supported by the existing building frame?

AF:  Although the appearance of the geometry of the addition looks complex, the interface between the new and existing building boils down to 28 unique connection points (seven existing grid lines x four floor levels), each custom-detailed to develop and complete the load path from the new to the existing frame.  Once the tension or compression at each of the 28 nodes transfers to the existing north column line, the ‘dots’ of the load path are connected back through the structure down to the foundation.  New horizontal bracing in the plane of the floors was inserted within the existing building where required to transfer the horizontal force through the respective floor levels and then into the three vertical braced frame lines.  The vertical braced frames are strategically hidden within the exterior walls or exposed to view in the co-working areas, as part of the raw, industrial aesthetic.

At the base of the braced frames, the accumulated collection of these load terminates  in two-foot thick x 22’-long x full basement story height walls, ballasting the new structure against uplift and preventing the structure from lifting out of the ground.

It was like designing for the weight of 50 elephants pulling on the north face of the building.