Pennsylvania State University, Millennium Science Complex

Given that new technologies and scientific breakthroughs increasingly stem from interdisciplinary research, the Pennsylvania State University and Viñoly decided to integrate the university’s Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences and Department of Materials Science and Engineering in a single building mass. In response to a highly technically sensitive research program, Viñoly 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.

Courtesy of Vinoly

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 47-meter (154-foot) cantilevers that connect at the upper stories and shelter an open-air public plaza. Located in 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.

Courtesy of Vinoly

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’s floor plates, with circulation at the perimeter, 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.

Courtesy of Vinoly

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 Gold certified facility. In conjunction with the design of the Millennium Science Complex, Viñoly also developed a number of master plan options for future construction on the site.

Courtesy of Vinoly

Project Info
Architects: Vinoly
Location: Pennsylvania, USA
Size: 27,130 gross square meters
Year: 2010
Associate Architect: Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff + Goettel
Civil Engineer: Sweetland Engineering & Associates, Inc.
Geotechnical Engineer: CMT Laboratories, Inc.
MEP Engineer: WSP
Structural Engineer: Thornton Tomasetti
Acoustic Consultant: Papadimos Group, Inc.
Construction Manager: Whiting-Turner Contracting Company
Cost Estimator: Faithful + Gould
EMI/RFI: VitaTech Engineering
Laboratory: Steven Rosenstein Associates, Inc.
Landscape Architect: Dewberry
Type: Research Center

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