The Penn State has a new home in the Millennium Science Complex, a 275,600 square-foot science building housing two of the University’s premier research organizations – the Materials Research Institute and The Huck Institutes for the Life Sciences.
In response to an extremely sensitive research program, Rafael Viñoly Architects designed a structural solution for the laboratory facility that accommodates technological needs while creating open space and a gateway to the university’s science and research corridor.
The L-shaped building houses the departments in two perpendicular wings, with Life Sciences in the western wing and Materials Sciences in the northern wing.
Where the two wings join, they rise up with monumental 150-foot (45.7-meter) cantilevers that connect at the upper stories and shelter an open-air public plaza.
Located beneath this plaza, state-of-the-art quiet rooms and nano-mechanical labs require complete acoustic and vibration isolation, which is achieved by cantilevering the building overhead and keeping the quiet labs structurally independent.
Above-grade, open-plan, flexible Life Sciences laboratories are arranged around the perimeter of the floors for abundant natural light, with support spaces in the center. Conversely, Materials Sciences laboratories are in the center of the building where the environment can be more tightly controlled.
The second and third floors and the fourth-floor mechanical penthouse connect the two wings with common meeting and social spaces, as well as an outdoor terrace, to encourage interaction and collaboration between the two departments.
The stepped elevations simultaneously concentrate the building mass away from the streetscape and pedestrian areas to create the opportunity for large green roofs that reduce the heat-island effect and filter pollutants and carbon dioxide from the air surrounding this LEED-Certified facility
Instruments for the characterization of organic and inorganic materials will be co-located in a vibration-free quiet space, part of 50,000 net square feet of user facilities dedicated to current and future generations of characterization and fabrication tools.
Shared meeting and common areas are designed to encourage the free exchange of ideas that existed in the great corporate labs that defined physical science and engineering in the 20th century.
Location: State College, USA
Architect: Rafael ViñolyArchitects
Project Team: Whiting Turner Contracting Company; glazing contractor, D-M Products, Inc.
Engineering: Thornton Tomasetti
Construction: Whiting-Turner Contracting Company
Construction start: July 2008
Completion: Summer 2011
Area: 275,600 gross sq. ft.
Cost: $ 225 Milion
Client: Pennsylvania State University
Photography: Jeremy Bittermann, Bruce Damonte