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Sherman and Joyce Bowie Scott Hall – Carnegie Mellon University

Client: Carnegie Mellon University

Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Type: Higher Education, Interdisciplinary Research

Completion Date: End of 2016

LEED Gold Target

Michelle LaFoe and Isaac Campbell and our team at OFFICE 52 was selected in a national design competition in 2011 from among seventeen of the most highly regarded firms in the country to design the new Sherman and Joyce Bowie Scott Hall, Carnegie Mellon’s new interdisciplinary Nano-Bio-Energy-Technologies Building.  The 109,000 square-foot building creates a new and important research hub on campus.  Its program includes an 11,000 square-foot class 10|100 research grade clean room for exploration at the nano scale, a new home for the Department of Biomedical Engineering, and space for the University’s new Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation, the Disruptive Health Technologies Institute and the Engineering Research Accelerator.

Intentionally positioned in the heart of the campus between four existing buildings, Scott Hall is located on an interstitial parcel that drops over 100-feet from the northwest corner of the Hornbostel Mall down into the un-tamed landscape of Junction Hollow, a neighboring ravine.  The lower portion of the site, a steep hillside, is bisected by an existing service road and major campus utilities and the ravine is home to an active freight rail line.  The design of Scott Hall embraces its difficult site and demanding program, seeking to transform these challenges to advantage.

The resulting design is comprised of two interlocking geometric forms, the North Wing and the Bertucci Nanotechnology Lab.  Together these two forms completely transform this area of campus.  The highly visible four-story North Wing projects prominently out over Junction Hollow on a composition of sculptural steel columns that recall Pittsburgh’s engineering aesthetic while also gracefully avoiding the major utilities in the hillside below.  Its glass form interlocks with a masonry core that anchors the building to the hillside.  Its transparent skin reveals the activity within and provides occupants with panoramic views out to the Carnegie Museum of Art and the city beyond.  The North Wing has a dual role in the larger composition of the campus; simultaneously creating highly visible symbol for the College of Engineering and also reinforcing the centrality of Henry Hornbostel’s neighboring Hamerschlag Hall, the capstone building at the west end of campus.

At the scale of the campus, the North Wing’s fritted curtainwall draws upon the layered patterns and proportionality of the neighboring Hornbostel buildings to knit together a diverse architectural vernacular.  The scale and density of the pattern change from elevation to elevation in response to the distance from which the building is viewed and its specific environmental requirements. The pattern also intentionally obfuscates the floor plates in a reference to the overlap of disciplines within the building.  At a more intimate scale, the frit draws from the nano-scale science taking place within the building through the abstraction of a photonic quasi-crystal structure to create a compelling geometric pattern that brings together art, design, technology and science within the architecture.  On the south side of the building and along a portion of the west elevation, dichroic glass sunshades, created with technology commonplace in nano-scale research, shade the building.  Their ever changing reflections and refractions transform the building’s appearance depending on the time of day, the intensity of the light, the season and peoples’ movement.

The second form of the overall design is an infill building, the Bertucci Nanotechnology Laboratory, which occupies a former sunken service court at the west end of the Hornbostel Mall.  OFFICE 52’s inventive approach relocated the functions of the service court and placed Scott Hall’s most sensitive labs at grade within the court.  This significantly improved their adjacency to other relevant programs and reduced their exposure to vibration and other environmental factors.  The Bertucci Lab is accessed through an elegant and contemporary glass pavilion that rises through a state-of-the-art green roof which covers the clean room and extends the grassy landscape of the Hornbostel Mall to the western edge of the historic campus.  This extension completely transforms the west end of the Mall, replacing the former service court with new campus spaces, better pedestrian linkages, enhanced connections between buildings and an entry plaza for Scott Hall that frames amazing views out to the west that will be the landing point for a future pedestrian bridge spanning Junction Hollow.

At the intersection of the North Wing and the Bertucci Lab lie the important connecting spaces of the design:  the Collaboratory and the Ruge Atrium.  These two spaces link all four levels of the building and, like a jigsaw puzzle, make direct connections to seven different floor levels in the four neighboring buildings, bringing together hundreds of faculty, researchers, staff and students to create a new interactive hub for the College of Engineering.  Anchored by a café, the Collaboratory and the Ruge Atrium are the intellectual and social heart of the building and provide flexible space for break-out sessions, meetings, exhibits, informal gatherings and social interaction.  With carefully framed views, these south and west facing spaces have abundant natural light with an ever changing pattern of colors and shadows created by the dichroic glass sunshades and the custom designed curtainwall.  It is here that all the disciplines of Scott Hall, and those from the neighboring buildings, come together and overlap in an environment we designed to purposefully support interdisciplinary collaboration.

Scott Hall in on track to attain LEED Gold Certification from the USGBC despite its systems-intensive research program, and when complete, it will have one of the most energy efficient research grade clean rooms in the world.  OFFICE 52 Architecture, Design Architect; Stantec, Architect of Record; ARUP, MEP, Fire protection, Structural, Vibration & Acoustical Engineering; Davis Langdon; Jacobs, Lab Planning & Cleanroom Consultant. Jendoco Construction Corporation was the University’s CM|GC for this project.

>Link to project video

>Link to construction video

>Link to dedication video

>Link to team’s 4D construction model video

>Link to CMU Engineering press article

>Link to CMU News article