The Hinman Research Building, originally designed by P.M Heffernan in 1939 who later served as director of Georgia Tech’s School of Architecture from 1956-1976, recently has undergone a $9.5 million restoration, rehabilitation and adaptive reuse. Office dA in collaboration with Lord, Aeck & Sargent adapted the freestanding research facility to include graduate level architecture studios, computer labs and interdisciplinary research labs among others.
Events will be held today to mark the grand opening of the Hinman Research Building starting at 4pm in the Reinsh-Pierce Auditorium with a lecture from the architects, Nader Tehrani of office dAand Atlanta based Lord, Aeck & Sargent‘s Jack Pyburn, FAIA. Following the lecture a ceremony and reception will be held from 5-7pm at the Hinman Research Building.
Architects: office dA and Lord, Aech & Sargent
Location: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Construction Manager: The Beck Group
Project Area: 35,000 sqf
Project Year: 2011
Photographs: Courtesy of Georgia Tech COA
“Hinman is the perfect union of the past, present and future of architectural research and education at Georgia Tech,” said Alan Balfour, dean of the College of Architecture. “Certainly our students will benefit from a learning environment built with the very best practices in confident yet responsible design, interdisciplinary collaboration, and the most advanced construction technologies available.”
“Thoughtful conservation of the original materials and important interior and exterior features has preserved the integrity and legacy of Heffernan’s Bauhaus-influenced functionalism. In addition, the original concrete and steel construction was retrofitted to a LEED Gold standard of sustainability,” said Jack Pyburn, FAIA, Lord, Aeck & Sargent’s principal in charge of the project.
The Hinman Building’s interior was reconceived within the context of architecturally and historically significant features to accommodate future programmatic needs of the College of Architecture, and to didactically communicate the relationship between the past and future of architectural education at Georgia Tech.
With a radically limited budget, the idea was to redefine flexibility by differentiating the various events on the ground from functions up in the air. The ground is thought of as an expansive flat field where a variety of spatial organizations may be permitted—as a drafting hall, a ground for large-scale installations, an auditorium, a critique room or a hall for the Beaux Arts Ball. In turn, the section of the building brings the ground to life by hanging the most important attributes of the space aloft:
The high-bay space features a historic crane from which a dramatic new mezzanine is hung, re-purposing the crane and expanding the usage of the building by 3,000 square feet. A new monumental stair connects the mezzanine and the floor of the high bay to facilitate communication within.
A new spiral staircase enclosed in a sock of expanded cable mesh provides access to faculty offices in the building’s upper floor, activating the building’s southern wing. A matrix of custom-designed retractable pendant lights allows the high bay to adapt for film screenings, large-scale model building and other programmatic activities. A 40-foot-wide guillotine door, suspended from above, provides added pinup space for reviews and exhibitions when closed, and when raised reveals a large formal critique space that can double as a gallery.
“The relationship of the new elements within the high-bay and historic framework is calibrated carefully: neither in mere subservience, nor in disrespect, but rather in a productive tension, the new giving added meaning to the old,” said lead designer Nader Tehrani.
The Building Information Modeling (BIM) successfully used on this historic preservation adaptive reuse project exemplifies the high degree of collaboration between the architectural team and the construction manager. The Beck Group converted the architect’s BIM model to a construction-level BIM model that incorporated laser scans of the space to seamlessly achieve the project design within the construction budget and schedule. In addition, Beck created intelligent models to support the design, fabrication and installation of architectural millwork. At the completion of the project Beck will provide a complete model of the building including facility management functionality, enabling Georgia Tech to monitor the building’s performance over its life cycle.
“This challenging project enabled us to demonstrate our advanced BIM skills to add value to the construction process, the owner and ultimately future students,” said Fred Perpall, AIA, managing director of the Eastern Division of The Beck Group.
The project was spurred by soaring growth in graduate architectural studies and research activity in the College of Architecture over the last two decades. Funding came largely from the State ofGeorgia when, in May 2008, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue signed into law a $6.4 million appropriation for the renovation. Remaining costs were covered in partnership with the GeorgiaTech Office of the President, but private support is crucial to completing the project so that it is optimally used.
The adaptive reuse of a Bauhaus-influenced building at the Georgia Institute of Technology includes careful treatment of the building envelope and innovative mechanical systems.
spiral staircare connects the new mezzanine, or “the crib,” to the lower level. Credit: Jonathan Hillyer
The pendant lights in the high-bay of the Hinman Building’s laboratory space are designed to be retractable. However, motors for the system were cut due to budgetary constraints. They may be installed at a later date. Credit: Jonathan Hillyer
The design team repurposed an existing historic crane in the high-bay area of the Hinman Building so that it now hangs a mezzanine that expanded the building’s usable space by 1,500 square feet. Credit: Jonathan Hillyer
The existing building, from 1939, included a leaky masonry shell and inefficient window glazing, both of which were remedied in the renovation. Credit: Jonathan Hillyer
Georgia Institute of Technology Hinman Building axonometric. Credit: Lord
The original building was built in 1939 and designed by Bush-Brown, Gailey and Heffernan, with Paul M. Heffernan as lead designer. Credit: Jonathan Hillyer
To many architects, the opportunity to redesign a tall, underused space in an old building would represent something of a blank slate. The instinct to fill the area would be strong—to subdivide the interior, add floors, leave some kind of indelible mark. What a team of architects did at Georgia Institute of Technology’s Hinman Research Building, however, was far more unusual—making a 50-foot-high bay functional and sustainable in a light and historically referential way.
Designed in 1939 by the firm of Bush-Brown, Gailey and Heffernan with Paul M. Heffernan as lead designer, the Hinman building takes its cues from the Bauhaus school, with little ornamentation save for a few curving elements and long horizontal bays of windows that are further defined with steel beams. Inside, a high-bay laboratory emphasized functionality with a large crane used to move heavy equipment.
Although the 35,000-square-foot building had been in continuous use by various Georgia Tech units, the university sought to add more studio, laboratory, and event space for the College of Architecture, whose main building was nearby. Lord, Aeck & Sargent (LAS) of Atlanta won the commission through a competitive process in collaboration with Boston-based Office dA. The renovation created graduate architecture studios, research labs, administrative offices, and galleries.
“We all had a commitment to keeping the building’s character-defining features,” says Jack Pyburn, FAIA, director of LAS’s preservation studio and principal in charge of the project. “At Hinman, those features are not all related to material or detail, but also to things like volume. We felt that the historic crane had to be an active part of the building, for example, not just a remnant of the past.”
The central move of the renovation is a new mezzanine or “crib” that is suspended from the historic crane, adding 1,500 square feet of studio space in a visually light and transparent way. The open floor can be reconfigured for various purposes.
“Part of the agenda was to develop a [building for the] school of architecture based on horizontal and vertical flexibility, in a way that respected the authorship of Heffernan,” says Nader Tehrani, former principal at Office dA and now principal of Boston-based NADAAA. “We didn’t try to counter what he did, nor did we want to snuggle up and extend what he did. We developed a parallel logic that worked with his vision.”
The team determined that the renovation could pursue a LEED Gold rating while retaining the building’s historic character. The rating hinged on three main factors: treatment of the building envelope, efficient lighting design, and conditioning of the space. Analyzing the building envelope, for example, revealed that replacing the windows’ 1/4-inch clear glazing with 5/8-inch, low-profile, insulated, clear glass with a high-performance coating would improve energy efficiency over the existing conditions by 15 percent. Yet the team also had to deal with a masonry shell that was inherently leaky.
“We found that there is a disproportionate emphasis put on the window systems of these buildings,” says John Kisner, AIA, project manager for LAS. “Instead of making the building airtight and possibly resulting in some unpredictable behaviors in the wall system, we designed it for some exfiltration.”
The team developed an air-intake, filtration, and ventilation system that relied on occupant-demand carbon dioxide monitors to determine how much fresh air to allow into the building. To minimize the size of the ductwork, the team adopted a decoupled fresh-air system, in which central rooftop handlers provide conditioned fresh air to the building. A second system of local fan coil units provides supplemental heating and cooling to the air already in the building. The ducts for these systems are relatively small and unobtrusive, Kisner says. The mechanical systems were left exposed to keep with Heffernan’s didactic ideals.
“There are not many spaces at our institution that serve so clearly as didactic tools,” says Alan Balfour, dean of the College of Architecture. “Exposing the layers of history and structure throughout the building presents a continual opportunity to discuss strategies of preservation and restoration in all our teaching.”
The designers took advantage of daylighting afforded by the abundant windows, but added programmable and retractable transparent shades. A matrix of pendant lights are designed to be retractable to allow the bay to be adapted for film screenings and other activities. “Standard lighting design manuals say you need 60 footcandles per square foot,” Kisner says. “But we determined that students frequently turned off the lights because they were working on computers. The university let us have a target that was more like 15 footcandles, which was a dramatic reduction in the wattage required.” Students can supplement with task lighting as needed, and occupancy sensors turn off lights when areas are not in use.
In specifying recycled-content and low-VOC materials and finishes, Tehrani says that the team was careful to make cost-effective choices, recognizing that, in a recession especially, a project ought to be economically and socially sustainable in addition to environmentally sound. “Innovation comes in many forms, scales, and materials,” he says. “We recognized that the existing space was one of the most awesome spaces on campus. Now it’s like Grand Central Station.”
“The Hinman building spatially brings students closer to the conceptual heart and spirit of the campus,” says Jason Garza, a master’s in architecture student and president of the Georgia Tech chapter of American Institute of Architecture Students. “It is a physical inhabitation of a traditional campus building using a critical framework of modern design so that students may come together to create a vision for the future.”
Kim A. O’Connell writes about historic preservation and sustainable design from Arlington, Va.
Project: Hinman research Building at Georgia Institute of Technology
Architect: Lord, Aeck & Sargent, lordaecksargent.com; Office dA, officeda.com—Nader Tehrani (now with NADAAA, nadaaa.com)
Civil engineer: Haines Gipson & Associates, hainesgipson.com
Client, owner: Georgia Institute of Technology, gatech.edu
Electrical engineer, mechanical engineer: Eaton Energy Solutions (formerly EMC Engineers),eaton.com
General contractor: The Beck Group (CM at Risk), beckgroup.com
Green consultant, LEED consultant and life-cycle performance partner: Lord, Aeck & Sargent
Interior designer: Office dA
Landscape architect: Doran & Karwoski
Structural engineer: Uzen & Case, uzuncase.com
Materials and Sources
Acoustical system: International Cellulose, spray-on.com
Adhesives, coatings, and sealants: Dow Corning Corp., dowcorning.com
Carpet: Tandus Flooring, tandus.com
Cladding, exterior wall systems: Existing brick masonry infill walls
Concrete restoration: Southeast Restoration and Fireproofing
Demolition and interior abatement: Winter Environmental, winter-environmental.com
Furniture: Office dA
Glass: Trainor Glass Co., trainorglass.com
HVAC, plumbing, and water systems: Ragan Enterprises, raganenterprises.com
Interior walls: Mulkey Enterprises, mulkey.us
Lighting, lighting-control systems: Metropower, metropower.com
Masonry: Living Stone Masonry
Metal window frames: Southern Machine Specialist, wecanmakethat.net
Millwork: The Beck Group, beckgroup.com; F.W. Honerkamp Co., honerkamp.com; Royal Custom Cabinets, royalcustomcabinets.com
Paints and finishes: Specialty Finishes, specialtyfinishes.com
Raised access flooring: Haworth, haworth.com
Roofing: Peach State Roofing, peachstateroofinginc.com
Signage: Apco Signs, apcosigns.com
Structural systems: Steelfab, steelfab-inc.com
Windows and doors: Southern Door & Plywood, southerndoorply.com
By the Numbers
Building gross floor area: 38,000 square feet
Number of permanent occupants and visitors: 200
Percent of the building that is daylit: 75
Percent of the building that can be ventilated or cooled with operable windows: 50
Total water used (gallons per year): 144,153
Calculated annual potable water use (gallons per square foot per year): 3.79
Total energy used (kBtu per square foot): 51.6
Percent total energy savings: 43.7
LEED rating: Pursuing LEED Gold
Total project cost: $10.9 million
Data provided by Lord, Aeck & Sargent