New Science Building in STEM Village
In response to growing demand for space dedicated to the sciences, Valparaiso University wanted to create a “STEM Village” that would provide lab and research space for students and faculty. The New Center for the Sciences does just that, and is the first new science building completed in the village. IMEG provided structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection, and technology engineering design and services for the new building.
State-of-the-art chemistry and biology labs throughout the two-story building utilize a flexible design to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration and research among students and faculty. The first floor includes a 48-student lecture hall and labs for anatomy/physiology, biochemistry, and genetics/microbiology. The second floor houses organic, inorganic, physical, analytical, and synthetic chemistry. Both floors have study spaces and offices. A basement level includes a cadaver lab and building systems.
Because most of the space is dedicated to labs, the building needed to have an AHU system that could handle the massive load and keep occupants safe. The university also wanted an energy efficient system.
To meet these goals, IMEG engineers provided an innovative design that included:
- Exhaust and fume exhaust airstreams
- Dedicated recirculating cooling system for the equipment load in the instrument room providing more than the required air changes
- Lab air control system that reduces the exhaust airflow through a fume hood based on the sash position, with exhaust further reduced when the zone presence sensor also detects no one near the hood
- Occupancy sensors to adjust the number of air changes per hour of airflow being supplied to a lab
The design also included separate ducting of fume exhaust and general exhaust, resulting in smaller horsepower motors for the general exhaust that can be modulated by a VFD to use even less energy when fewer air changes were needed.
Sustainability features also include high-efficiency chiller and condensing boilers, variable flow heating and chilled water pumping systems with premium efficiency motors, LED lighting, and daylighting sensor controls. The boiler plant also served the building domestic hot water system in conjunction with a plate and frame heat exchanger.
IMEG’s expertise in floor vibration resulted in column spacing and floor thickness designed to alleviate the vibration inherent with steel building structures. This met the 2000 micro-inches-per-second acceleration requirement for the sensitive equipment of the lab.
Multiple early bid packages including site utilities, structural steel design with composite deck slabs, and an interior build-
out contributed to meeting the building’s accelerated 20-month construction schedule.