Articles Tagged with: University of Pennsylvania

Stemmler Hall Published in BD+C

The University of Pennsylvania’s Edward J. Stemmler Hall was profiled in Building Design + Construction (BD+C) magazine. The project won a Bronze Award in BD+C’s 2020 Reconstruction Awards.

Excerpted from Building Design + Construction:

Edward J. Stemmler Hall is an essential bridge that links the realms of education, discovery, and clinical practice for the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. The biomedical research and teaching facility, which was originally built in 1978, is located on the university’s campus at a critical juncture between academic, research, and healthcare facilities.

As a means of advancing the university’s Climate and Sustainability Action Plan, the school was considering a building systems-based retrofit of the 230,000-sf Stemmler Hall that would increase energy efficiency and renew building infrastructure.

But after some discussion, Ballinger, the project architect, proposed a more holistic solution: a comprehensive renovation that would transform the building, providing new Class A laboratory space and replacing all building systems. The project sought to increase energy efficiency and deliver 102,000 sf of fully renovated research space.

Because of the building’s pivotal campus role, the facility needed to remain operational throughout construction, which posed logistical challenges related to accessing, assessing, and working within an occupied building.

Construction was sequenced into three phases in order to maintain occupancy within the building:

  • Phase 0: Enabling Electrical and Tele/Data Infrastructure installed; temporary rooftop mechanical systems installed to maintain building operations
  • Phase 1: Renovate Levels B, G, 1, and 2; additional temporary mechanical systems installed to maintain building operations
  • Phase 2: Renovate Levels 3, 4, and 5; install permanent mechanical systems within renovated Penthouse 

Occupant safety was assured by implementing open lines of communication. Project websites, weekly construction update emails, and town hall gatherings informed building users about progress, shutdown notices, and work schedules.

The build team drew upon Louis Kahn’s Richards Medical Research Laboratory, a landmark of the University of Pennsylvania’s design heritage, as a means of embedding the Stemmler Hall project within its context. Paying homage to this landmark, existing cast-in-place stair and elevator cores within Stemmler Hall were cleaned, restored, and highlighted as feature elements of the building. The concrete’s finish and texture serves as both a way-finding element and a unique component of the overall materials palette.

The renovation moved away from compartmentalized spaces and, instead, implemented an open lab concept that was critical to improving utilization within the existing floorplate. On the building’s lower levels, underutilized educational and administrative spaces were converted into revenue-generating research space. 

A monumental stair improves campus flow and strengthens the connection between clinical practice and medical research, while an existing dark passageway beneath the building was reclaimed as a lobby that now acts as a connector to the surrounding buildings. Additional dark corridors were reimagined as bright, open spaces. At the building entry, a meandering series of public spaces were repurposed to better support student life.

Deteriorated exterior insulation was replaced with foil-faced insulation, existing windows were replaced, a new insulated roof was installed, and existing pipes that had corroded over time were replaced.

The completed project delivered a 50% increase in lab workstation capacity, a 50% reduction in energy use, and $900,000 in projected annual energy cost savings. Stemmler Hall has become one of the most energy efficient research building’s on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus and is anticipated to obtain LEED Gold certification.

Penn Stemmler Hall Achieves LEED Gold

Stemmler Hall at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine was certified LEED Gold by the U.S. Green Building Council. Ballinger provided architecture, engineering and lab planning services for this transformative renovation in the heart of campus. An important ambition of the project was to help fulfill the aspirations of Penn’s Climate and Sustainability Action Plan.

Ballinger designed a neutral air chilled beam system with dual heat recovery wheels coupled with demand-controlled ventilation. Calculations project a 50% reduction in energy use and significant annual cost savings. Efficient floorplans enable program and research flexibility, resulting in an open and adaptable 21st century magnet facility with 50% more workstations.

In 2019 Green Building United, Philadelphia’s chapter of the USGBC, recognized the project as a finalist for its Groundbreaker Award program.

Stemmler Hall Wins BD+C Reconstruction Award

Edward J. Stemmler Hall at the University of Pennsylvania was selected as a Bronze winner in the 2020 Building Design + Construction (BD+C) Reconstruction Awards competition.  Awards are given to the best historic preservation, reuse, renovation, and reconstruction projects nationwide. Winners are selected based on design, engineering, and construction quality.

Ballinger provided architecture, engineering and lab planning services for this comprehensive renovation of Stemmler Hall, built in 1978. Rather than the simple systems-based retrofit that the University originally planned, Ballinger proposed a holistic, LEED Gold 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.

Philadelphia-Based Researchers Work Towards COVID-19 Vaccine in Ballinger-Designed Labs

Research scientists at the University of Pennsylvania and The Wistar Institute are responding to the coronavirus global outbreak by investigating the development of new ways to diagnose, treat, and prevent infections. Researchers are conducting experiments in labs designed by the architects and engineers of Ballinger — The Robert and Penny Fox Tower, a seven-story, 100,000 SF addition to The Wistar Institute and Stemmler Hall, a 230,000 SF lab building at the University of Pennsylvania that recently underwent a transformative renovation.

Photo courtesy of Norbert Pardi

Photo courtesy of Norbert Pardi

Read more about how these institutions are working to speed the development and testing of a COVID-19 vaccine

Stemmler Hall named Groundbreaker Award finalist

The University of Pennsylvania’s Stemmler Hall was named a Green Building United 2019 Groundbreaker Award project finalist. The Groundbreaker Awards recognize and celebrate green building leadership, innovation, and impact in the Philadelphia area.

Ballinger worked with Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine to transform the 230,000 SF Stemmler Hall, a 1970s era biomedical research and teaching facility in the heart of the campus. Ballinger designed  infrastructure to maximize energy performance and floorplans that enable program and research flexibility. The outcome is an open, flexible 21st century magnet facility.

Winners will be announced at the Groundbreaker Awards Ceremony on September 25th at the Comcast Technology Center. Green Building United promotes the development of buildings that are sustainable, healthy for inhabitants, resilient, and cost effective. Through education, advocacy, and strategic initiatives, Green Building United’s mission is to transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built, and operated.

Design for Penn’s “Evans Building Centennial Renaissance” Achieves LEED Gold

In May 2018, the University of Pennsylvania’s recently renovated Evans Building was awarded LEED Gold by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The building is home to Penn’s School of Dental Medicine and the Leon Levy Dental Medicine Library.

Anticipating the structure’s 100th anniversary in 2015, Penn commissioned Ballinger to program, plan, and redesign the historic building for their “Evans Building Centennial Renaissance” initiative. With the goal of bringing the School of Dental Medicine into the 21st century, the space was re-envisioned to optimize patient care, expand academic and clinical spaces, and improve circulation flows.

Ballinger’s designers, engineers, and historic preservation team were tasked with preserving the building’s historic character while also modernizing infrastructure and systems to improve occupant comfort and operating efficiencies. USGBC awarded the LEED Gold certification based on the building’s optimized energy performance, green power, enhanced commissioning, reduced water usage, and innovative design.

HUP: Q&A with Russ Neithammer

Ballinger’s electrical engineers are celebrating the completion of a long-term project to replace the 15 kV medium-voltage power switchgear in Penn Medicine’s Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP).

The University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine was the nation’s first medical school and remains a renowned center of research and clinical excellence. HUP is the oldest university-owned teaching hospital in the country and sees over 72,000 patients per year. Ballinger has worked with them over the last ten years on the planning and implementation of several major electrical power projects, with the end goal of replacing the 15 kV medium voltage main service entrance switchgear for this prestigious institution.  Chief Electrical Engineer, Russ Neithammer explained Ballinger’s approach to this monumental project.

What was this project all about?

RUSS NEITHAMMER: The overall goal was to upgrade the over 70-year-old 15 kV medium voltage utility service entrance switchgear, leading to an improvement in overall reliability, simplified maintenance, and a reduction in exposure to catastrophic failure. We started with a feasibility study in which we identified a number of approaches to replacing the switchgear and to upgrading lighting, HVAC, fire sprinkler protection, and egress provisions in the hospital’s main electrical equipment vault to meet current code requirements and to be consistent with other University electrical service facilities.

What sort of options did you consider?

RN: Each approach had its pros, cons, and risks.   For switchgear replacement, we considered many options. For example, we looked at a vacuum circuit breaker retrofit into existing switchgear cubicles, installing the new switchgear in the existing location, and installing it in an adjacent transformer vault location.

How did you decide which approach to take?

RN: It was essential that there be no disruptions to hospital operations in the process of replacing the service entrance switchgear.  This meant that we had to have a design that minimized the time required for any single outage as we changed over from the old switchgear to the new, while also allowing for the option of temporarily backing out to existing conditions if we encountered problems during any of the outage work.  Continuity of operations and constructability were the key drivers that informed all major design decisions.

That sounds complex. What methods did you use to make that possible?

RN: We designed the switchgear installation with constructability in mind right from the start.  The design option that resulted in the least amount of risk to hospital operations was the one that allowed for installation and energization of the new switchgear in the adjacent transformer vault before removal of the old.  This allowed us to move loads from the existing to the new switchgear via separate, sequential outages for each of the feeders.

The initial challenge was that before we could address replacement of the main switchgear, the active 2400V transformers in the transformer vault had to be removed from service.   This meant that the entire existing 2400V distribution system (a holdover from the early 1900’s) had to be eliminated.  We accomplished that by executing two predecessor enabling projects.  First, we replaced the 2400V switchgear and transformation (to 480V) in the Dulles building portion of the HUP complex.  Our second enabling project involved the construction of a new building that houses transformation (to 480V) and distribution to the three oldest buildings of the HUP complex.  As with the replacement of the main substation, each of the enabling projects had its own constructability issues, which were addressed in a similar manner to the main substation project, i.e., install and energize the new equipment before removing the existing equipment.  Completing the enabling projects eliminated all loads on the existing 2400V transformers, thus allowing them to be removed from the transformer vault and freeing up the space we needed to completely install and energize the new switchgear and move the feeders.

With an empty transformer vault, construction work leading to installation and energization could go forward, requiring only two short utility outages to tie in and energize the new switchgear and make it ready to accept load as the feeder moves were executed.

What takeaways do you have after 10 years on this project?

RN: Overall, communication throughout the process was the key to executing the project with minimal disruption to hospital operations. The design and construction staff, operations staff, clinical staff, construction manager, design assist electrical contractor, design engineer, and PECO (the electrical utility serving HUP) were all involved throughout the entire process. Likewise, although this project had a heavy electrical focus, architecture and all of Ballinger’s engineering disciplines played significant roles.

Approaching the project with this level of communication meant that the design constructability was understood by all parties.   This understanding led to detailed outage planning for the best possible coordination with hospital operations. The result was a process with minimal design changes or surprises and a project executed on-time and well within budget.