Building renewal: The
good, the bad and the ugly
continued from page 18
for a complete renovation. Due to concerns
that a phased renovation could compromise ongoing research—particularly with
noise and vibration sensitivities for animal
housing—a better, cost-effective plan was
developed to renovate the entire building as a
single project. This approach afforded complete lab floor reconfigurations into modern,
efficient research labs integrated with support
spaces, increasing the assignable area by 3,000
sf per floor. What was once less than optimal
circulation will now be incorporated into a
flexible open lab environment. Public areas
will be improved by opening up lobbies for
collaborative meeting space, and a new plaza
will re-connect the building back to the campus pedestrian “spine”.
The evolving design also recommended
complete replacement of the building’s exterior precast envelope and glazing, along with
all of its systems, bringing attractive changes
for the building’s look and function.
two phases involved assorted 43,000 sf of
renovations, including an animal suite.
During programming, existing facilities were reviewed and evaluated for their
frequency of use and department affiliation
to determine optimized adjacencies and
space-use match. A phasing strategy for
renovations to occur with minimal departmental disruption followed. The Phase 1
addition, creating swing space, now houses
the biology, chemistry, geography and geology, physics and astronomy and psychology
departments. Included are 36 labs on the
first two floors, with faculty offices on the
third, fourth and fifth floors.
In designing the site and new addition’s
exterior envelope, special attention was given to sustainability strategies for stormwa-ter management, including green-planted
roofs, sunshading, daylighting and a chilled
beam HVAC system. Masking the west face
of this heavy, ’60s-era brick and stone trim
building, the lighter, transparent new addition is connected by a series of walkways to
the existing building via a shared corridor
running parallel to its entire length, creating a seamless connection to the existing
building. A previously enclosed fire stair
was opened to introduce an open, welcoming visible connection between the new
and old. The addition continues beyond to
the north, where it also joins with EMU’s
Strong Hall, another science building.
The building’s collaborative atrium space
puts its science on display, literally from
the top down and offers a five-story view
from the ground floor up to a suspended
The new front door to the Mark Jefferson Science Complex now serves as a
symbolic front door to the campus, and
is entered across a sculptural suspension
bridge from the nearby parking.
MARY ELLEN JONES RESEARCH BUILDING,
UNIV. OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL
The 228,000-sf Mary Ellen Jones Research Building is experiencing a comprehensive renovation. Our firm began
creating the renovation master plan, originally envisioning an incremental phased
approach for the building’s full renovation.
Though structurally sound, the building
needed major systems upgrades. And being
on a busy medical center campus with little
room for expansion required a transformative renovation.
Over the years, multiple small projects
enabled research to continue, despite the
building’s core deficiencies restricting its
full utilization. Major impediments to
creating an attractive, modern lab environment included: recirculating air systems
in the labs; inefficient floor plans with
labs and support labs separated by public
corridors; window sills at 4 ft 6 in, limiting
views and natural light; exhaust fans and
other equipment at the end of its useful
life; and an unbalanced air system bringing
vivarium odors to public spaces.
In addition, the school of medicine’s
campus evolved so the building’s main entry faced away from the primary pedestrian
corridor. The less-attractive back door by
the loading dock had, in effect, become the
everyday entrance—not ideal for recruiting
to this modern medical school.
Funding changes brought new campus lab
buildings, which brought enough swing space
Univ. of Cincinnati Rievechl Hall: Main image: Renovated research labs with daylit write-up space beyond. Inset:
Typical research labs prior to renovation.
Univ. of North Carolina Chapel Hill: Main image: Rendering of new exterior of Mary Ellen Jones Building. Inset:
Photo of existing building prior to renovation.