Carnegie Mellon University

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May 11, 2012

Breaking Ground

Innovative Hub To House Biomedical, Nanotechnology, Energy Research

By Bruce Gerson

BEN BuildingCarnegie Mellon's recently approved 10-year master plan won't be gathering dust anytime soon.

The first building to be built under the new plan is a new research facility that will house the Biomedical Engineering Department; an energy institute focused on developing technologies to improve energy production, efficiency and sustainability; and a nanotechnology fabrication lab, with space for approximately 200 faculty members, researchers and graduate students.

Scheduled to break ground in the fall and to be completed in spring of 2015, the 100,000-square-foot, $70 million-plus building will be nestled on the hillside between Hamerschlag, Wean and Roberts Engineering halls. A four-story north wing with a glass exterior will overlook the hollow, extending toward Craig Street above exterior support columns.

The lower two floors of the north wing will consolidate Biomedical Engineering offices and laboratory spaces from multiple locations, including from the PTC Building by the Monongahela River. Energy institute offices and labs will be on the third level and the top floor, which is approximately 10,000 square feet, will be a shelled space for a future academic or research unit from the university.

To the southeast of the north wing will be a 12,000-square-foot nanofabrication facility, upgrading and nearly tripling the size of the current lab on the D-Level of Hamerschlag. The new lab will be located in what is now a parking lot between Hamerschlag and Wean halls.

As is the case in the Gates and Hillman centers, the new structure will promote openness and collaboration and provide connections to neighboring buildings and parts of campus.  The north wing will have a four-story atrium space, known as "the collaboratory," which will join all four levels of the building and include workspaces furnished with comfortable furniture and white boards.

The north wing floors will connect directly to Wean Hall on multiple levels and the cleanroom on the ground floor will connect to Hamerschlag and Wean.

Exterior connections also will be part of the new developments.

The Hornbostel Mall will extend above the cleanroom between Hamerschlag and Wean halls and connect to the energy institute in the north wing. A glass pavilion will lead pedestrians down one level from the Hornbostel Mall to a small café, training area and the nanofabrication lab. The Porter Hall side of Hamerschlag will be fitted with a new stairway leading to the Scaife Hall parking area.

"Fitting all of this program into a challenging site has been difficult," said Ralph Horgan, associate vice provost for Campus Design and Facility Development. "But with the guidance of College of Engineering Dean Pradeep Khosla and Institute for Complex Engineered Systems Director Gary Fedder we have worked very hard to pull it all together for the users, for the college and for the university."

Through a design competition last year, CMU selected a design team led by Office 52, an architectural firm based in Portland, Ore. The team includes the Pittsburgh firm of Stantec/Burt Hill. Providing lab and engineering expertise on the design team are Jacobs Consultancy and ARUP Engineers. Office 52's higher education clients have included Stanford, Virginia Tech and the University of Texas at Austin. Burt Hill's credits include projects at CMU, Cornell, Princeton, Penn State, Georgia, Iowa and Maryland.  The firm led renovation projects to CMU's Baker and Doherty halls.

Horgan said, as with all new construction, CMU will strive to make this a sustainable building, achieving Silver LEED status at a minimum.

Pictured above is an architectural rendering of the new building that will house the Biomedical Engineering Department, an energy institute and a nanotechnology fabrication lab. Courtesy Campus Design and Facility Development.

City Approves CMU Master Plan

Pittsburgh City Council has approved Carnegie Mellon's 10-year Master Plan, a document that will guide the university's growth through 2022.

Bob Reppe, director of design for Campus Design and Facility Development, expressed thanks to the Carnegie Mellon community for their contributions to the plan.

"Input from all layers of the campus has resulted in a vision of the future of Carnegie Mellon," Reppe said. "Students, staff, faculty and administration have all contributed to the 2012 Master Plan and the plan is all the stronger as a result. Finally, the 2012 Institutional Master Plan is a result of the leadership of President Cohon and Provost Kamlet and sets an exciting course for the future of Carnegie Mellon University."

The City of Pittsburgh Zoning Code requires all universities and hospitals to submit a new master plan for approval every 10 years. The plans become a legal zoning document for any new building projects and enables projects in the plan to proceed along a streamlined review process. The plans are intended to provide blueprints for potential projects.

Proposed Projects

The new master plan, developed over the last two years, aims to direct and enable growth of the Pittsburgh campus while keeping in mind the needs and concerns of its neighbors. While multiple building sites are identified in the plan, the actual construction program for the projects will be developed as demand and funding evolve. The proposed projects include:

A biomedical-energy-nanotechnology center (see story above).

A new Tepper School of Business facility at the Forbes and Morewood parking lot site, which could bring together undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty all in one building. The new home for the Tepper School could be the first of several new projects on that site, which is thought to be a prime area for future development. This project will necessitate significant planning for the re-use of the existing Tepper School facility, to account for the loss of parking spaces, and to accommodate Spring Carnival.

Additions to the University Center (Forbes Avenue side) and a major reconfiguration of Skibo Gym (Margaret Morrison Street side) that will expand and enhance space for athletics, fitness and recreation.

An extension to Margaret Morrison Carnegie Hall that will extend toward Donner Hall to support all of the College of Fine Arts programs.

The current Carnegie Mellon plan, approved in 2002, resulted in the creation of the Robert Mehrabian Collaborative Innovation Center; Stever House, the nation's first green dormitory; the Gates Center for Computer Science; the Hillman Center for Future Generation Technologies; and the development of the Posner Center.

The new 83-page master plan can be downloaded from the Campus Design and Facility Development website at