Architect: Hord Coplan Macht
Contractor: The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company
Location: Boulder, CO
The new Aerospace Engineering Sciences was designed as a ‘Center of Gravity’ for the Department. The new building is specifically designed for students, researchers, and private partners to collaborate. It is located on a prominent site within the University campus. Inspired by principles of the discipline, the building was designed from the inside out, ensuring the goals for collaborative research and hands-on learning drove the layout. The exterior of the building explores the concept of propulsion, the action of driving forward, through the vertical precast plates that ‘pleat’ across the south façade pulling toward the entry. The ‘pleated’ façade controls heat gain and glare while allowing views and daylight to the laboratories and drawing visitors into the expansive lobby.
At 180,000 GSF, Aerospace Engineering Sciences offers a mix of active-learning classrooms, lecture classrooms, offices, laboratories and collaborative lounge spaces. Aerospace Engineering Science’s first floor is focused on the undergraduate student, with active learning classrooms, hand-on workshops and collaboration space. The upper floors are dedicated to research laboratories and offices. There is collaboration space on each floor to encourage faculty-to-faculty and faculty-to- student interactions. The building creates a unique user experience on a one-of-a-kind site by visually inviting students, faculty, and visitors into the large entry lobby that connects four levels with a central grand stair. The grand stair lies on axis with the main entry door and overlooks the Research Plaza, exterior courtyard, and interior classrooms and workshops. The layout maximizes energy efficiency and daylight for all occupied spaces.
After exploring other materials, precast concrete was selected for this dynamic façade due to its flexible nature, its longevity and its natural beauty. Over fifty feet in height and one foot in depth, each precast concrete plate is comprised of a series of ARCIS panels that work together to create a uniform ‘wing-like’ form that angles toward the front entry, propelling visitors into the building. Innovation and research are key elements of the aerospace industry; ARCIS embodies these principles. An innovative product within the precast arena, ARCIS utilizes stainless steel aircraft cables as prestressing strands for the precast, and has been extensively tested to prove similar capabilities to traditional precast. The natural material appears to defy nature as it soars above the ground. Additionally, precast was utilized as window sills and parapet copings, picking up the patter language of the surrounding campus buildings while allowing the south elevation to be a signature element that speaks to the aerospace program.
The soaring design created constructability challenges for the contractor. Given the owner’s requirement for LEED Gold certification, a high performing building envelope was developed using a continuous closed-cell spray foam insulation. Coordinating the precast clips while maintaining the R-26 wall insultation proved challenging. Working in collaboration, the contractor, design team and owner resolved the issue by redesigning the track system to allow the closed-cell spray foam to be virtually unpenetrated. Connections to the structure were specifically engineered to allow for field tolerance within the system in order to maintain a thermal break between the precast cladding and supporting structure while providing the desired final look. Coordination of trades prior to and during the process of setting the track system allowed for the building shell to be watertight long before the setting of ARCIS took place. This helped with duration of schedule, cost and the ability to heat the structure during winter.
Colorado is a hub of the nation’s aerospace industry, and the Aerospace Engineering Sciences facility positions the university at the center of this revolutionary industry. Aerospace Engineering Sciences is a beacon for aerospace at the University, within the state, and across the country. The building speaks to the academic mission of the University to solve complex problems that lead to discoveries and innovations. Aerospace Engineering Sciences is prominently located on axis with the East Campus entrance. The precast ‘pleated’ façade accentuates the building entry. Precast concrete was used because it showcases strength and innovation, symbolizing the aerospace industry.
High Performance Goals:
The angles of the precast plates were analyzed to control heat gain, reduce glare, and maximize daylight, while still allowing views out from the interior of the building. As a result of this scrutiny, 76% of the Aerospace Engineering Sciences’ building spaces are daylit with views. The pleated form also visually draws visitors into the entry lobby. Custom sunshades control southern heat gains and ceramic frit controls heat and glare on the west facing glass. Coupled with daylight harvesting, the building’s design helped in realizing an energy cost savings of 61% more than ASHRAE 90.1-2007 and an EUI of less than 57 kBtu/sf/yr which allowed the building to achieve LEED Gold certification.
The team selected precast concrete due to it flexible nature, its longevity and its natural beauty. Additionally, the precast provided improved storm resistance, accelerated construction and reduced long-term life cycle costs. The thermal mass benefits of the precast helped the overall building system achieve a better efficiency than other building material systems. Because ARCIS is a more lightweight system than traditional precast or stone, the supporting structure was smaller and more efficient saving the owner money.
Furthermore, 3D modelling in REVIT was used to accurately model every component of the precast cladding system; everything from individual strands, embeds, connection hardware, & supporting structure. Precise drawings equated to better piece ticketing for the plant, which in turn produced a higher-quality panel and better quality control over the final product for installation in the field.
2” ARCIS Ultra-thin Prestressed Precast Rainscreen Panels
- 979 pieces or 10,650 square feet
- 215,324 lineal feet of 1/8” stainless steel strand
- 71 cubic yards of concrete
- Acid etch finish