High Bay BLAST Laboratory, University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania astronomers and a team of international researchers have developed the most highly-sensitive telescope of its kind to be carried by balloon. BLAST: The Balloon-borne Large-Aperture Sub-millimeter Telescope is helping researchers understand the formation and evolution of stars and galaxies. BKP’s design for the High Bay BLAST Research Laboratory provides a place for this work by providing faculty and students with a facility for research, fabrication, and telescope display. Astronomers must carefully construct the telescope in the lab, bringing it outdoors on the steel beam for calibration with the stars, before eventually sending the telescope on its balloon trip; once the telescope returns to Earth, it must be reconstructed in the laboratory before future missions. The new lab is designed to support and accentuate the astronomers’ work and the cycle of research and reconstruction inherent with the telescope. The nearly cube-shaped design features a 42′ high ceiling, exposed structural steel framing, and a crane beam and glass sliding doors for moving the BLAST telescope indoors or out. A distinctive showcase window on Walnut Street affords passers-by a visual learning experience as they see astronomers at work.
1,200 square feet
2013 American School & University Architectural Portfolio Outstanding Design