Scott Hall at Carnegie Mellon University
Client: Carnegie Mellon University
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Type: Higher Education, Interdisciplinary Research
Scott Hall is the College of Engineering’s new LEED-Gold certified109,000 square-foot (10,000 square metres) Nanoscience, Bioscience and Energy Technologies Building on the Carnegie Mellon University campus in Pittsburgh. This low-energy, high-tech landmark laboratory building is an exhibition project that embodies Carnegie Mellon’s interdisciplinary culture to create a progressive, collaborative research center at the forefront of advanced nanotechnology and complex engineered systems.
The building houses the Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation, the Bertucci Nanotechnology Laboratory with an 11,000 square foot class 10|100 research-grade clean room for nano-scale exploration, the Department of Biomedical Engineering, the Disruptive Health Technologies Institute, the Engineering Research Accelerator, as well as offices, meeting rooms, and a café adjacent to a light-filled public room that links all levels in the building and provides direct connections to seven different floor levels in all neighboring buildings, greatly improving accessibility and connectivity.
The building was intentionally built in the heart of the campus between four existing structures on a challenging interstitial site with a steep decline of over a hundred feet into a ravine with an active freight line. These site conditions inspired a building design composed of two inverted and interlocking forms that create a coherent whole: the above-ground North Wing with gracefully sloped and efficiently placed column-pods to accommodate major campus utilities in the hillside below, and the Bertucci Nanotechnology Wing, a below-grade, low-vibration lab space placed in a former service court, an addition to the site that we recommended for the project. Overhead are modern glass elements, such as the Bertucci Pavilion, in the new 35,000 square-foot state-of-the-art green-roof that extends the space of the university’s historic Mall and transforms that part of the campus landscape. It provides a new public green space and connections to the rest of the campus while also contributing to storm water management.
The two above and below-grade forms embrace at their overlap in a public room resplendent with ephemeral light from an energy efficient curtain wall with details that metaphorically link concepts of nanoscience, scale and photons to the architecture. Dichroic glass, a nanotechnology-derived material infused with metal oxides, is used for the external fins. The ceramic frit design is an abstraction of a photonic quasicrystal structure, which creates a geometric pattern that can be read at a variety of scales – as semi-transparent bands further away to a dot matrix when closer. The dimensions of the fritted bands are a contextualizing element proportionately derived from adjacent buildings of the traditional campus Mall, and both the frit and dichroic glass add visual depth and pattern for a bird-friendly building, a crucially important environmental aspect for local and migrating birds.
In the building the nanoscale research and wet labs comprise over half of the building’s annual energy consumption, thus in conjunction with the building’s high performance mechanical system, the curtain wall is designed to meet stringent energy goals. Solar studies, thermal comfort analysis, and energy modelling informed an optimum arrangement of façade elements. Orientation of the North Wing maximized daylight, and dichroic glass sun-shading fins on the south and west elevations are weaved into the façade composition to create an innovative and energy efficient design. With high-performance glazing, ceramic frit, spandrel glazing, dichroic glass sun-shades, brise-soleil, and internal solar shades, the building envelope exceeds performance goals to produce one of the most energy efficient lab buildings in the country.
In addition to energy efficiency, building services systems in the North Wing have been designed for future flexibility and can be expanded for power, heating and cooling if required as the research process evolves with sections of the laboratory floors designed to be converted readily.
By adding the materials of light and color, reflected and transmitted, we turned the building into a dynamic interplay of nano-inspired color and texture that shifts throughout the day dependent upon the angle of sunlight striking the glass and the observer’s position. It is a transformative meeting of material form and scientific innovation with an environmentally conscious mission inseparable from occupant inspiration.
OFFICE 52 Architecture and their team won this commission in a national design competition.
Project team: OFFICE 52 Architecture, design architect; Stantec, architect of record; ARUP, structural, mep, fire protection, lighting, vibration & acoustical consulting; Davis Langdon, cost consulting; Jacobs, lab planning & cleanroom consultant. Project photography by Jeremy Bittermann, Isaac Campbell, Michelle LaFoe.
2021 Global Design News
2020 Green Good Design Award
2020 Good Design Exhibition Europe
2019 International Architecture Award press release
2019 International Architecture Award
2019 American Architecture Award press release
2019 American Architecture Award
2019 SARA New York Award
2019 The Arup Journal
2018 Best of Design Award The Architect’s Newspaper
2018 Gray Award
2018 ACEC New York Engineering Excellence Award
2018 book Form and Dichroic Light
2018 SCHOTT Innovation Experts
2018 University Trends: Contemporary Campus Design
2018 The Architect’s Newspaper Glass Edition
2018 UrbanGlass Publication Feature
2014 Civil Engineering