Healthcare environments offer unique challenges for interior designers, with issues of durability, cleanability and code compliance impacting product selection. Ballinger senior interior designer Gina Weckel shared her go-to healthcare products in the June issue of Contract magazine.
To celebrate National Historic Preservation Month, Philadelphia’s Preservation Alliance asked 31 historic preservation leaders to describe a building that inspires them. Ballinger’s Director of Historic Preservation, Fon S. Wang, AIA, LEED AP, wrote about her enduring affection for the Fleisher Art Memorial.
How can architects play a role in meeting the urgent demands of the COVID-19 pandemic? Ballinger Associate Principal and Director of Healthcare Planning, Christina Grimes, AIA, LEED BD+ C, EDAC, ACHA, was interviewed by PlanPhilly, a reporting project of the public media organization WHYY, about remaking spaces for our new socially distanced lives.
Ballinger’s Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building at the University of Maryland Baltimore County was featured in the Spring 2020 issue of Context, a quarterly magazine published by the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The issue is dedicated to the concept of collaboration.
The design profile focuses on the collaboration between UMBC, Ballinger and Volkan Alkanoglu, the artist responsible for “In Flight”, a dynamic installation in the building commons.
Architecture critic William Morgan reviewed the University of Rhode Island’s Fascitelli Center for Advanced Engineering, designed and engineered by Ballinger.
The University of Rhode Island’s Fascitelli Center for Advanced Engineering handsomely demonstrates that bold new architecture is not just the purview of Ivy League schools and their private brethren like RISD and MIT.
Colleges and universities can be the places to view the latest work of starchitects. Institutions like Yale, Princeton, and MIT have become architectural petting zoos, with strutting displays of egotecture.
State schools are often less likely to be laboratories of avant-garde architecture. Yet public universities–the Michigans, Ohio States, Californias–are also commissioning notable design.
New England may be the incubator of higher education in this country, but architecturally our state universities have lagged somewhat behind. The $125,000 million Fascitelli Center demonstrates that that is changing.
At the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, for example, New England’s only public architecture school moved into the first academic building in the United States made of cross-laminated-timber, designed by Leers Weinzapfel, while the business school just opened an innovation hub by Bjarke Ingels Group, one of the world’s most daring firms.
URI’s engineering program, once scattered across the campus in a various structures is now housed in one striking 190,000 square feet steel and glass structure that has become the center of gravity for the Kingston school.
The L-shaped, five-story engineering building is in marked contrast to the rest of the campus. Except for the attractive Westerly granite structures in classic post-Civil-War-state-college style surrounding the common, URI’s design identity has been undistinguished.
In part because of a new master plan by Ballinger, architects of the engineering building, works like the Wellness & Fitness Center, an imaginative remake by Kite Architects of a 1965 dining hall, are beginning to offset less inspiring projects such as the URI Foundation’s home, which looks like a bloated McMansion, one with rams horns capitals.
But the missteps of the past fade when one enters the sparkling, light-collecting Fascatelli Center. Its strong, clean lines and pristine glass and metal surfaces are the perfect metaphor for a research center that explores the physical aspects of our world from civic and environmental engineering to Nano-technology and cyber-security.
As Terry Steelman, senior principal at Ballinger and project designer, says, Fascitelli “propagates the notion of engineering as a bridge between liberal arts and the sciences.” A 210-foot-long truss that spans the ground floor reinforces the bridge theme.
Beneath that span is a transparent rectangle sheltering a student gathering space with a cafe. Because of the trussing system, this large open social center supports nothing above it, so one can see right through this open space to the other side.
Visible diagonal trusses show through the glass walls. This bracing system allows classrooms and research laboratories to be unencumbered with vertical columns.
Hallways along the exterior perimeters of the white-painted trusses provide the school’s most endearing feature: a hawk’s-eye view the campus and the South County countryside.
Philadelphia-based Ballinger has a reputation as designers of technically complex science buildings, and have worked at Penn, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, and many other schools. There are no frills here, no gimmicks, just a focus on good design delivering the best educational engineering facilities.
Brown missed such an opportunity for a bold glazed design when Ballinger’s original proposal for the Sidney Frank Hall for Life Sciences was unfortunately clad in brick to appease College Hill neighbors more interested in a false notion of context than encouraging exceptional design.
At URI, however, the emphasis on natural light transforms what might have been just another science building. Architect Steelman is particularly proud of the glazing that wraps the fifth floor. This unitized curtain wall has an acid-etched first surface and a white fret as the second surface. Light filtered through this scrim is ever changing.
If we imagine the Fascitelli Center as a brilliant gesture at re-branding the university, it tells us loud and clear that URI is a place that will lead to, in the words of President David Dooley, “discoveries that we cannot even imagine today.”
GoLocal architecture critic Will Morgan has written extensively about university design and is the author of Collegiate Gothic: The Architecture of Rhodes College.
Main Line Today published an article highlighting 155 Radnor, the Ballinger-designed workspace development led by Brandywine Realty Trust, and included remarks from Senior Principal Eric Swanson, AIA.
If you ask Jeff DeVuono why there hasn’t been any new office development in Radnor Township for nearly 30 years, he’ll provide a simple, clear answer: “It’s not a lack of interest in developing office space, it’s a lack of available land.”
The Brandywine Realty Trust executive vice president and senior managing director for Pennsylvania understands that, when it comes to Main Line real estate, it doesn’t get any better—or more crowded—than Radnor. But as a key component on the Brandywine team for 155 Radnor, DeVuono is pretty excited about the project, which is set to debut later this year with 145,000 square feet of rentable space, plus a luxury hotel. “If you look at the statistics, Radnor is the only market in the Pennsylvania suburbs that has single-digit vacancies,” he says.
The new development is part of the 26.6-acre Penn Medicine campus, which is also a Brandywine venture. Located on King of Prussia Road, it’s convenient to the Route 100 SEPTA light-rail and Paoli/Thorndale lines, and within easy driving distance of the Blue Route and Schuylkill Expressway. Throw in the robust retail climate in the area—plus housing and school options that are among the best in the region—and the new complex has one of the better addresses around. “It’s also where decision-makers live,” DeVuono says or Radnor’s impressive roster of residents.
Satisfying one of real estate’s biggest needs—location—155 Radnor also has a substantial advantage in terms of its design, which was helmed by Philadelphia architecture firm Ballinger. It emphasizes productivity, quality of life and the ability to feel comfortable in the workplace. The latter has become an increasing necessity as businesses devote more time and resources to attracting and retaining talent. DeVuono likens the process for new employees to the college search his children are undertaking. “They go on a campus and they don’t know what they like about it, but they want to be there,” he says.
Inside, the 155 Radnor complex will feature high ceilings, large windows, attractive views and open spaces. Outside will feature the same walking paths, outdoor seating, biking/walking trails, work areas and gardens that have become so popular with residential and commercial developments. It’s no longer enough to have a nice chair. Workplaces need to be comfortable and pleasing, or their employees won’t want to be there. “Everything is about the live-work-play environment,” DeVuono says. “People also want to stay healthy and connected.”
Eric Swanson is the lead architect on the 155 Radnor project. “You don’t know what Biophilia is?” he poses “It’s the theory that all of us humans, because of our long evolution, have an innate affinity for nature. People in health care understand the benefits of nature in healing and well-being.”
Since 155 Radnor is part of the Penn Medicine campus, it makes sense to give it a look that helps those who work there integrate more easily with their natural surroundings. That’s why the building will be primarily glass, and make use of a parking garage rather than acres of lots to maximize green space. There will be plenty of room to roam, meet, eat and think outdoors—a sure benefit in the warmer months when the urge to spend time in the sun increases.
Such designs are a break from the norm established in the last two decades, which favored emphasizing interior congregating places. Although there will be plenty of productive space inside for collaboration, there will always be an opportunity to enjoy some natural light and views of nature.
“The modern workforce is looking for these amenities,” says Swanson, who’s been with Ballinger for 35 years. “If you look at the campuses for Apple and tech companies out West, they attract talent by being good places to work, but also by providing ways to take breaks from work, without having to leave the area.”
Those who work at 155 Radnor won’t have much use for the hotel, but the property will fill a need for the companies inside the development, along with others in the area. “Everything is about the live-work-play environment—and the hotel is part of that,” says DeVuono, who expects several different tenants in 155 Radnor.
The first floor is somewhat adaptable to the needs of a company, while the other three are more set in their layout. There will be no retail component to the building, which is a function partly of the amount of offerings close by. It’s also due to the fact that Brandywine Realty Trust doesn’t want to lock itself into a particular formula that may not allow for flexibility later. “We want a physical space and infrastructure that can adapt to future needs,” DeVuono says.
Brandywine has focused on making sure the bones of the building will be as modern as possible—and that includes power, water and HVAC infrastructure. It should come as no surprise that Brandywine is labeling 155 Radnor a “trophy class” property—a building that offers the broadest amenity base. And while that may sound like a somewhat arbitrary appellation, it’s one the new folks in the game can claim as they move the design model forward.
The University of Rhode Island Magazine covered the opening of the Fascitelli Center for Advanced Engineering, designed and engineered by Ballinger.
The largest construction project in University history, The Fascitelli Center for Advanced Engineering opened its doors this fall, bringing all the engineering disciplines together in a space that actively supports hands-on, interdisciplinary research and defies departmental silos. The center features state-of-the-art research labs, student-oriented open space, and bold, modern design–transparent, airy, and centered around common work areas.
By Janine Liberty
From the smartphone to the Large Hadron Collider to France’s Millau Viaduct, some of the world’s greatest engineering marvels have been created in the last 20 years. Rapid advances in technology and material sciences have changed not just what’s possible in engineering, but what’s imaginable. Engineers are at the center of an era defined by unprecedented technological capabilities, and their creative and practical achievements are shaping the world in entirely new ways.
Just before classes began this fall, a group of engineering professors gathered in The Fascitelli Center for Advanced Engineering. Representing the full engineering faculty, this group comprises 22 of the college’s 74 faculty members, whose research and teaching will be shaped by the open space, transparent walls, and bridge-like architecture of the new facility.
Engineers are unique. Equal parts creative visionaries and doers, they are able to imagine technologies that will advance human potential, and construct the framework that will transform their ideas into reality. These engineers are also teachers, mentors, and guides—showing the next generation, who will be faced with some of the biggest problems the world has ever known, how to engineer solutions.
A New Space for a New Era of Research
URI’s College of Engineering is positioned to push the rapidly expanding boundaries of science and technology, and its new home, The Fascitelli Center for Advanced Engineering, is designed for this new era. With the opening of The Fascitelli Center for Advanced Engineering this fall,” says College of Engineering Dean Raymond M. Wright, “students can be educated differently, and researchers can collaborate more easily across disciplines.”
“This new facility will stimulate collaborative, multidisciplinary learning and research. It will lead to discoveries that we cannot even imagine today.”
–URI President David M. Dooley
“Increasingly, our engineering students and faculty are not only working in interdisciplinary teams within the college, but with students and faculty from across the University in oceanography, health, pharmacy, chemistry, computer science, and business as well as companies and corporations around the state, region, and the world,” URI President David M. Dooley says.
During preliminary meetings with the project’s principal architect, Terry Steelman, of the firm Ballinger of Philadelphia, Wright explained that he wanted to bring faculty together through research areas, not departments or disciplines. “One thing we know for sure is when we bring people together to solve challenges, it gets done,” says Wright.
The college will be organized around critical interdisciplinary research themes that address some of the biggest challenges the world faces: alternative energy, nanotechnology, robotics, cybersecurity, water for the world, biomedical technology, advanced materials and structures, and sensors and instrumentation.
The Fascitelli Center will support and encourage this interdisciplinary research by physically locating faculty from different disciplines near one another and adjacent to common research and meeting spaces. “Almost nothing in engineering anymore exists solely within a single discipline,” says Steelman. “This building is designed not just to advocate for, but to stimulate interdisciplinary discovery, so students can be educated differently, and researchers can collaborate across disciplines.”
“When the engineering disciplines combine, the sum is greater than its parts. URI engineering is building the future.”
–Dean Raymond M. Wright
“Our faculty are designing and building the infrastructure modern society relies on; finding innovative ways to harness energy from our sun, ocean, and even highways; building new medical diagnostic methods and devices; and racing to ensure every man, woman, and child has access to clean, safe water,” says Wright.
“This new facility will stimulate collaborative, multidisciplinary learning and research. It will lead to discoveries that we cannot even imagine today,” Dooley adds.
The new building was funded by two Rhode Island voter-approved bond issues, as well as private gift commitments from corporations including Toray Plastics (America), Inc.; FM Global; Taco; Hexagon; and Shimadzu; and from individual donors, including a $10 million gift from College of Engineering alumnus Michael D. Fascitelli ‘78, Hon. ‘08, and his wife, Elizabeth Fascitelli.
Learning Through Hands-On Research and Fieldwork
Working in robotics is like the Wild West in terms of the opportunities it presents,” says engineering student Robin Hall ‘20. “It’s always innovative, always changing, and there is always something new to work on.” Hall sits in the Intelligent Control and Robotics Lab surrounded by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), robots, spare wires, and computers.
Situated on the fourth floor of the new engineering building, the robotics lab opens up to an expanse of glass that encloses the exterior hallway. From inside, you can look out over the northern edge of the Kingston Campus to the woodlands beyond. Hawks soar above the distant treetops, in effortless flight, while research teams inside devise robotic systems capable of agile, aerial movement.
“Working in robotics is like the Wild West in terms of the opportunities it presents.”
–Robin Hall ’20
This year, Hall has an independent research grant to develop a wall-traversing drone. “My idea employs a four-propeller UAV surrounded by an external cage that can rotate independently from the internal body of the robot. The cage will protect the vehicle and maintain stability.” Working with existing drone and cage designs, Hall’s innovation is to fix two axes and add a motor to the third axis to control the movement. “The quadcopter will behave like a wheel, rolling laterally against a wall surface.”
He’ll work with Paolo Stegagno, assistant professor of electrical, computer, and biomedical engineering, as his grant adviser. “As he designs and tests his UAV, Robin will gain advanced knowledge of control systems,” says Stegagno.
More research involvement–such as Hall’s–at the undergraduate level is important to the college; it means higher-quality senior projects, better internships, and more opportunities for students at all levels to learn from one another. Senior capstone projects are team-oriented and industry-driven, focusing on real-world challenges companies bring in for senior-year students to work on over the course of the academic year.
Making the capstone projects highly visible is meant not only to benefit students, but to attract industry. The projects are already an important point of entry for industry partners, having reliably translated to employment for graduates as well as research and economic partnerships with the University.
College of Engineering alumnus W. Lewis Collier, M.S. ‘86, Ph.D. ‘14, rapid engineering and prototype systems engineering manager for the MIL Corporation, and former technical director at Navmar Applied Sciences Corporation, supervised URI engineering students doing capstone projects at SRI International. He says URI’s capstone program “offers a valuable opportunity for students to apply and hone their engineering skills and learn about real-world problems and how engineers operate in the field.” Adds Collier, the program “is also important to the University’s mission to provide educated workers for Rhode Island businesses.”
A New Space for a New Era of Research
Great design is achieved through a balance of opposites. This 190,000-square-foot, five-story engineering building is a tour de force of design.
During the day, light streams throughout the enormous expanses of open space, constantly shifting in color, shadow, and intensity as it passes through surfaces of varying opacity. This effect is balanced by the density and stability of the building’s metal truss support system–which eliminates the need for interior support columns and allows for uninterrupted, open interiors–and sleek concrete floors.
“The glass of the building is both a metaphor and a physical manifestation of transparency and collaboration.”
—Dean Raymond M. Wright
The trusses, which span more than 150 feet of open space inside and are visible from the exterior of the building, are like those used for bridges, giving the building a bridge-like appearance, which emphasizes its physical siting between the older, humanities-focused buildings in the center of the Kingston Campus and the newer, science and technology-focused buildings on the north edge of campus.
In the new building, capstones will be a significant and highly visible part of the activity. More importantly, points out Wright, students from different research themes will be working in the same space. “You’ll have civil engineering and mechanical and biomedical capstone projects happening side by side.” In the building’s design, the Ballinger team combined the majority of the teaching environments on the first floors, so that students will be exposed to the interdisciplinary nature of the building.
“The quad level is a remarkable place,” says Wright. “We want our students to recognize that it’s their home. There are no faculty offices or research offices on that floor. It’s all about showcasing the hands-on aspects of engineering and building a creative atmosphere for students.”
Great architecture must also balance the experience of the individual with a collective purpose. Fascitelli credits Wright’s vision of bringing the college’s departments together as the driving force behind the building design. “Science as a whole has become so much more interactive, and the world is changing at such a rapid pace,” says Fascitelli. “You really need that cooperation between disciplines.”
Says Wright, “The glass of the building is both a metaphor and a physical manifestation of transparency and collaboration.”
“There’s nothing like this building in our portfolio. It’s unique to URI and I’m really proud of that,” says Steelman, adding that the center is “one of the most provocative and technologically advanced engineering buildings in the country.”
Hall is inspired by the new engineering space. “Being able to work in this space is an amazing upgrade,” he says. “It’s like a temple. It feels like you have the opportunity to do anything here.”
Three new Ballinger projects, Penn Medicine Chester County Hospital’s expansion, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s King of Prussia hospital, and Grand View Health’s new patient care building, were highlighted by the Philadelphia Business Journal in an article posted on November 1.
The article, titled “$4 Billion Boom,” describes the Philadelphia region’s current explosion in hospital construction and explains how a crop of new healthcare projects will create thousands of jobs in construction and healthcare. The work represents a shift to more outpatient settings and shortened inpatient stays, as well as the role of the consumer in selecting healthcare providers and facilities.
The Providence Journal covered the ribbon cutting ceremony for Ballinger’s Fascitelli Center for Advanced Engineering at the University of Rhode Island. During the event, Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor described the importance of engineering in the state, “Rhode Island is a place that engineers and builds things. We have throughout our history, but it’s part of our future as well. It’s a central part of our future. We are thrilled that there’s an engineering school that is of such an outstanding standard. Through this school we will create pipelines of talent that will serve our corporations. We will create great opportunities for our emerging young professional engineers, and we will power the economy.”