HDR: University of Maryland, Physical Sciences Complex

Automation, controls; electrical, power; HVAC, mechanical; lighting; plumbing, piping.


Physical Sciences Complex classroom/gathering space. Courtesy: HDR Architecture Inc.; Dan Schwalm/HDR Inc.Engineering firm: HDR

2016 MEP Giants rank: 7

Project: University of Maryland, Physical Sciences Complex

Location: College Park, Md.

Building type: Educational facility; office building; research facility/laboratory

Project type: New construction

Engineering services: Automation, controls; electrical, power; HVAC, mechanical; lighting; plumbing, piping

Project timeline: June 2008 to May 2014

MEP/FP budget: $10.4 million


As students and faculty make their way through campus to the new Physical Sciences Complex, they follow the natural path of circulation unobstructed. The building is lifted to create generous entrances into an unexpected, open-to-the-skies courtyard. Looking up through the "oculus to the skies," students and faculty see offices for theorists and astronomers while the physics department is appropriately rooted in the earth.

This open ellipse through the center of the building presented a challenge to the design team, as the penthouse for the mechanical equipment along with building shafts want to naturally be centrally located in the building and on the roof.

The new complex resides on a complicated site and includes several laboratories with some more exacting physics labs that are home to nanoscale research, which has stringent vibration and temperature requirements.

Physical Sciences Complex open-ellipse green roof. Courtesy: HDR Architecture Inc.; Dan Schwalm/HDR Inc.Solutions

  1. Locating the building's high-efficiency HVAC systems adjacent to the spaces they serve maximizes energy and building efficiencies through shorter distribution runs. The solution also avoided the typical penthouse-freeing the space for a green roof. This design also maximizes open space uninterrupted by mechanical shafts to allow for the "oculus to the skies." Operable windows in office and meeting areas provide natural ventilation. Other sustainable design features include green roofs for efficient stormwater management and an accessible roof garden.
  2. Occupants of the building were not identified until after construction began, making flexibility essential. Laboratories were distributed through the building, with the more exacting physics labs belowgrade and the less structurally intense astronomy labs and offices contained in the 3-story tower. Labs designed for research at the nanoscale are located belowgrade; using the earth itself to minimize vibration and isolate the labs from electromagnetic and radiofrequency interference. By maximizing and leveraging the natural stabilization of the earth, the strict temperature, air quality, and vibration requirements were realized using high-efficiency dedicated air handling equipment with HEPA filtration. A heat-recovery system was also integrated into the HVAC system to reclaim waste heat from the laboratory exhaust.


No comments
Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
Commissioning lighting control systems; 2016 Commissioning Giants; Design high-efficiency hot water systems for hospitals; Evaluating condensation and condensate
Solving HVAC challenges; Thermal comfort criteria; Liquid-immersion cooling; Specifying VRF systems; 2016 Product of the Year winners
MEP Giants; MEP Annual Report; Mergers and acquisitions; Passive, active fire protection; LED retrofits; HVAC energy efficiency
Driving motor efficiency; Preventing Arc Flash in mission critical facilities; Integrating alternative power and existing electrical systems
Putting COPS into context; Designing medium-voltage electrical systems; Planning and designing resilient, efficient data centers; The nine steps of designing generator fuel systems
Designing generator systems; Using online commissioning tools; Selective coordination best practices
As brand protection manager for Eaton’s Electrical Sector, Tom Grace oversees counterfeit awareness...
Amara Rozgus is chief editor and content manager of Consulting-Specifier Engineer magazine.
IEEE power industry experts bring their combined experience in the electrical power industry...
Michael Heinsdorf, P.E., LEED AP, CDT is an Engineering Specification Writer at ARCOM MasterSpec.
click me