6,990 sf.


Pittsburgh, PA


Architect of Record, Lab Designer, Interior Designer, FF&E


Wet lab, office/student space, storage/support/circulation


Finalist, AIA Pittsburgh Architectural Excellence Design Awards 2020

Spatial Planning

The existing 6,990 sf. lab and student office/work area was highly inefficient and compartmentalized into several small rooms. The poor spatial configuration was not conducive to the research environment, and inflexible laboratory casework and outdated constant volume fume hood technology hampered the important work being conducted within the space. In addition, the space was only accessible via a single central stair and chair lift, which also hampered getting gas cylinders and equipment in and out of the lab.

The Lab Loft

Faced with the challenge of renewing an existing space, the team endeavored to create a “lab loft” aesthetic, which exposed existing steel truss along the south side of historic Porter Hall. The new lab features a highly efficient, open ballroom configuration on the south, with more focused individual lab areas requiring separation for specific instrumentation and areas of research to the north, including a biology lab which is certified BSLII. The student area was strategically centrally located to promote lab safety, allowing visibility into the open lab for remote monitoring, as well as becoming a checkpoint to remind students to put on goggles, and leave food and other potential contaminants behind. As part of the lab renovation, a connecting corridor addition to a new neighboring building was also provided across the existing Porter Hall roof. This connector provided a second means of egress through this new building, and also access to a new elevator, making the lab fully accessible.

Maximizing Functionality

Variable-air-volume fume hoods and plug-and-play mobile benching have been provided to maximize the energy efficiency and flexibility of the ballroom lab area. A large glassware handling area was incorporated into the design which includes glassware washing, drying, and storage cabinets as well as access to deionized water which is fed from a centralized system dedicated to the CEE laboratory. Glazed walls and fume hoods with transparent side panels allow light from the historic transom and arched windows to permeate deep into the labs and student spaces, enhancing the research environment.

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