Town Hall Presentation on Two Major Campus Projects

Ralph Horgan, the university’s associate vice provost of Campus Design and Facility Development, describes construction projects for Scott Hall and an addition to the University Center last Tuesday. (credit: Kate Groschner/Photo Editor) Ralph Horgan, the university’s associate vice provost of Campus Design and Facility Development, describes construction projects for Scott Hall and an addition to the University Center last Tuesday. (credit: Kate Groschner/Photo Editor)

A Town Hall presentation open to all members of the Carnegie Mellon community was held last Tuesday to discuss two major Campus Projects: the construction of the Sherman and Joyce Bowie Scott Hall and the upcoming additions to the University Center.

Ralph Horgan, associate vice provost of Campus Design and Facility Development, began the meeting with an overview of the two projects. Dean of the College of Engineering Jim Garrett then discussed the history of the Scott Hall building.

The Scott Hall project began seven years ago as a vision of a nanotechnology laboratory. This vision took its first step toward reality when Carnegie Mellon alumnus John Bertucci (E ’63, TSB ’65) provided funding for a feasibility study. Gary Fedder, Carnegie Mellon professor and director of the Institute for Complex Engineered Systems (ICES), then put together a proposal for the building, which at the time did not receive funding. The university eventually approached Sherman Scott about possible funding for an energy institute, and according to Garrett, “Suddenly we had the different pieces, that when put together, would allow this building to move forward.”

In addition to the Scott donation, funding has been received from sources such as the Eden Hall Foundation and Richard King Mellon Foundation.

A building design was created that would incorporate biomedical engineering, nanotechnology, and the Scott Energy Institute. Following Garrett, Fedder spoke regarding the design and contents of the building.

Scott Hall will include a clean room, or nanofabrication facility, that will house equipment used to make electronics and sensors. This room will be at the same level as the current fourth floor of Wean Hall. The biomedical engineering department labs will be housed on the same level as the clean room; biomedical engineering offices will be located one floor above. Presently, the biomedical engineering facilities are separate from the main campus and located on the Monongahela River.

“Having them on campus and in proximity to both Wean Hall and Roberts Hall is going to make a huge difference in research and interactions,” Fedder said.

The Scott Energy Institute will be located on the same level as the Mall, or fifth floor of Wean Hall, and will house engineering for power systems, as well as battery and solar work. The space in the top level of the building has not been designated but will possibly hold the ICES Disruptive Health Technologies Institute, which will research methods to lower the cost of health care.

Furthermore, Scott Hall will contain a café similar to Tazza D’Oro in the Gates Hillman Complex, as well as conference rooms and study areas.

Visuals were then shown depicting the layout of Scott Hall. Unique features of the building include the green roof above the clean room, the anchoring of the structure on “table legs,” and the use of dichroic glass, which changes colors when hit by sunlight.

Additionally, Scott Hall will have indoor connections to Baker and Porter Halls, Hamerschlag Hall, and Wean Hall, and will have a bridge to Roberts Engineering Hall.

Attendees of the Town Hall asked questions ranging from building design issues to parking concerns. Live construction and traffic updates, as well as a webcam, can be found on the Scott Hall website.
Following the Scott Hall presentation, Vice President for Campus Affairs Michael Murphy described the upcoming additions and renovations to the University Center.

“Most of you are aware that athletics have been a big issue on campus. This project couples the commitment to athletics with a similarly important issue for us, which is a black box theater,” Murphy said.

“Additionally, there’s this notion that we’ve turned our back on Forbes Avenue, because of the loading dock there…. One major piece of this is creating a much more positive front to Forbes Avenue.”

This University Center project is the second step of a three-phase endeavor to improve Carnegie Mellon’s athletic facilities; the first phase was the addition of turf to the soccer field, and the third will be the redevelopment of the Skibo Gymnasium. Although the design is not yet complete, an architect for the project has been selected. Director of Athletics Susan Bassett described the preliminary additions.

Approximately 20,000 square feet of the 48,000 -square-foot addition will be dedicated to fitness, including two exercise studios, cardiovascular, free-weight, and Cybex equipment, stretching areas, and a spinning studio.

“We’re really excited about this,” Bassett said. “It will absolutely transform our programs. I’m equally excited about the black box theater…This is going to create an appropriate, dedicated theater space for rehearsals and performances for all our student groups.”

Project manager Andrew Reilly then discussed the timeline of the project, which will be in the design phase from May 2013 to February 2014 and under construction from March 2014 to July 2015.

Reilly said, “We’re going to impact campus.” This project will affect areas such as the drop-off next to the University Center, the parking garage entrance, and the pool. Another goal of the University Center project is to calm Forbes Avenue. Possibilities include narrowing Forbes Avenue to a two-lane road with turn lanes, improving pedestrian walkways and bike paths, and adding additional traffic lights.

During the question and answer session, some members of the university community offered suggestions or raised concerns. Mary-Lou Arscott, architect and studio professor at Carnegie Mellon, proposed that the renovations bring natural light to the basement floor of the University Center. “I have a point about the basement, which is sorely missing daylight…. This is our social life — the shops, the bank, the post office — these are the things that everybody has to come across. People are working down there … and yet they never see the daylight. It seems like a key to the community,” she said.

Additionally, fellow architect and Carnegie Mellon studio professor Hal Hayes praised the project, saying, “I think it’s a great program. All the things that are going in here can really contribute so positively to student recruitment and retention, and faculty recruitment and retention.” Hayes was concerned, however, about the lack of adequate dining options in the University Center. “[One] thing I think is missing from this is that we have no decent restaurants where you can take parents, or anybody who wants to go to one of these performances. That would be a tremendous asset to campus,” said.
According to Reilly, such topics have been in discussion and will be considered during the design process.