Construction is well under way on BKP’s design for the University of Pennsylvania’s High Bay BLAST Research Laboratory, the future home of the Department of Physics & Astronomy’s Ballon-borne Large-Aperture Sub-millimeter Telescope. The 1,200-square-foot laboratory will offer research, fabrication, and display space for the highly sensitive telescope, including a viewing window on Walnut Street, so that passers-by can view the scientists at work. Completion is scheduled for January 2012.
Construction progress has included the building’s steel framing, with its horizontal beam that extends outside the shell of the laboratory. The beam will allow the telescope to transition from the lab interior to the exterior. Also allowing the telescope to move in and out will be two 7.5-foot wide by 35-foot high motorized glass doors soon to be installed on the west elevation. Each door includes a smaller door in its upper half that scientists will be able to open for star sighting and calibration.
Exterior cladding is also going up. The Kingspan insulated metal panel system featured multi-faceted metal ribs that reflect light in much the same way as cut stone. The champagne bronze color will look gold, silver, or deep bronze depending upon the time of day, season, or side of the building. “We chose this dynamic material for its distinctive profile and the subtly dramatic effect it will offer the building’s different facades,” said BKP principal Darrell Kratzer.
The project team includes construction manager P. Agnes, Inc., structural engineer Keast & Hood Co., and mechanical-electrical-plumbing engineer AHA Consulting Engineers. The design and construction team have worked together to ensure half of the adjacent parking lot remains open and active throughout the project. Sitework will be finished ahead of schedule so that the parking area can be fully open as the interior is completed.
For additional information about the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Physics & Astronomy, or Dr. Mark Devlin’s BLAST research, visit http://www.physics.upenn.edu/people/m.devlin.html.