Spencer F. and Cleone P. Eccles Health Sciences Education Building Spectrum Engineers, Salt Lake City Educating health-care professionals has become a high-tech enterprise these days. Nowhere is this more obvious than at the University of Utah's new health sciences education building, with its technology-enhanced learning environments.
Spencer F. and Cleone P. Eccles Health Sciences Education Building
Spectrum Engineers, Salt Lake City
Educating health-care professionals has become a high-tech enterprise these days. Nowhere is this more obvious than at the University of Utah's new health sciences education building, with its technology-enhanced learning environments. Spectrum Engineers, designers of the communications and lighting systems, kept the school's health sciences students at the forefront of aesthetic and technical considerations in their designs.
The diverse, multi-purpose spaces at HSEB are not only designed to foster informal interaction among building users, but also to provide them with high-tech connection to information. The facility incorporates the latest advances in instructional technologies, media systems and distance learning capabilities, configured among a variety of spaces, from 15-person classrooms and meeting rooms to 150-person tiered halls.
But the overriding imperative was that complex systems needed to be easy to use. The solution was a master control system integrated with audio/visual and other system controls, one that features touchscreen interfaces and intuitive menus. Teaching lecterns were custom-designed, housing computers, document cameras, flat-panel displays, touchscreen controls, and networks for interfacing with other building systems.
In fact, the lecterns are a good example of design team collaboration and integration. Integrating user input with architectural and technological goals, the project team mocked up a lectern and adjusted the final design based on user input.
Audio/visual systems are typically one of the last systems to be installed, when the building is free of construction dust and other potentially damaging elements. This was no exception at HSEB, and given the number and complexity of A/V systems in the facility, meeting the construction schedule was extremely challenging for the engineering team.
Spectrum's engineers met these challenges through a multi-staff process that brought extra manpower onto the project. Moreover, the commissioning process was greatly shortened because of the earlier mock-up trials, which provided touchscreen refinement and user training at an early stage.
Syska Hennessy Group, Cambridge, Mass.
The challenge: design building M/E/P systems, aquatic life support systems, M/E/P for exhibits and a 4-D theater, in one of the world's largest aquarium facilities. That was the Herculean task that confronted engineers at Syska Hennessy Group's Cambridge office. Fortunately, Syska engineers have an extensive record and experience on fast-track, complexly integrated projects.
The challenges were many. For example, how do you control building humidity in a 1.5-million-cu.-ft. room that houses a 6-million-gal. tank of water at 77
Or how about the problem of integrating HVAC systems for more than 500,000 sq. ft. of building with an interactive smoke control system? The engineers at Syska developed systems based on concepts developed by Howe Engineers, Falmouth, Mass. The design allows for exhausting more than 120,000 cu. ft. per min. from any of five major galleries or from the central plaza, while supplying more than 100,000 cfm to keep all of the other galleries smoke-free.
In short, the irregular nature of the exhibit design required a unique approach to almost all of the building systems—but especially for HVAC, lighting and fire protection. For example, a 120-ft. acrylic viewing tunnel that runs below the “open ocean” tank could not be protected with a traditional sprinkler system design. In fact, sprinklers were not even physically feasible. The solution was high-tech: a very early smoke detection (VESDA) system. HVAC in the tunnel would rely on supply air being introduced through a trench in the floor and return air through a recess in a low wall that runs the length of the tunnel.
In a very real sense, all M/E/P systems in this project are critical systems—emergency power for 100,000 fish and countless human visitors, lighting systems for both emergency use and exhibit special effects. In the Georgia Aquarium, Syska Engineers have brought all their know-how to bear.