Pennsylvania State University’s recently opened Millennium Science Complex (MSC) has received rave reviews for its cutting-edge design, state-of-the-art departmental integration and use of high-performance materials, including Wausau Window and Wall Systems’ SuperWall™ system and ClearStory™ sun shades. The project also has earned U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED® Gold certification for its energy efficiency and environmentally responsible design and construction.
Designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects, 275,600-square-foot MSC houses the University’s premier research organizations: Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences and Materials Research Institute. The $215 million building was completed in summer 2011, three years after general contractor Whiting-Turner first broke ground.
Initially planned as two separate buildings, architect Rafael Viñoly combined the projects into a single building early in the design process. The new complex consolidates engineering, chemistry, biology, physics and other disciplines that had been housed in 40 locations around Penn State’s central University Park campus.
The L-shaped building houses the research departments in two distinct perpendicular wings. The wings join together at the fourth floor to form the building’s architectural signature — a striking cantilever that soars 150 feet in the air, stretching over the building’s main entrance and open-air, public plaza.
Along with defining a powerful aesthetic that already has become a campus icon, the overhead cantilever also is essential to the building’s structural design: It provides the support necessary for the complete acoustic and vibration isolation required by the state-of-the-art “quiet rooms” and nano-mechanical laboratories located directly beneath the public plaza.
The curtainwall system itself also plays a key role in Rafael Viñoly’s design. The lines of the brick-clad exterior are offset with rows of continuous window systems along each of the structure’s four stories. This allows an abundance of natural light to penetrate the building’s interior and creates a visual band around the building’s exterior. Each section of curtainwall on the building’s second and third floors are accented by exterior sun shades, helping control solar heat gain and glare while emphasizing the horizontal lines of the structure.
To meet the demands of performance and aesthetic requirements, Whiting-Turner and glazing contractor D-M Products, Inc. specified Wausau’s SuperWall curtainwall. “We have utilized Wausau Window and Wall Systems extensively on many Penn State University academic buildings for nearly 30 years. Their window and curtainwall products are highly engineered, precisely fabricated and provide the University with superbly performing, low-maintenance building envelopes that will look great and last for many years to come,” says D-M Products’ president, Dick Macurak.