Program/Lab Design

Through several series of meetings with the four faculty groups constituted by the School of Engineering well-considered designs for three floors were established in the schematic phase. The open plan concept requested by the University in the programming phase has been developed, and laboratory support requirements were discussed at length. It was agreed in meetings both with the faculty groups and with University of Connecticut Division of Environmental Health and Safety that The Chemical Engineering group will be located on the top floor of the building pending concurrence regarding Hazardous Materials Control Areas with the Fire Marshall (see further discussion on this topic elsewhere in this report). The Bioengineering & Biomaterials group will be located on a middle floor. The remaining two groups, Computing, Virtual Reality and Simulation, and Controls and Sensor Systems, will share the first floor.

No faculty advisory group has yet been constituted, nor methodology established for programming and designing the Science floor(s) of the building. Meetings were held with the Deans of the School of Pharmacy (Dr. McCarthy) and of the College of Agriculture (Dr. Weidemann), and there was an intention to meet with the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (Dr. Teitelbaum), but it was not possible to schedule the latter. The purpose of these meetings was to discuss generally the research space needs of the Sciences, but not to program or begin to design the allocated space in the new building in detail. For the purposes of the schematic design it is assumed that the Science floor(s) will be arranged like that of the Bioengineering & Biomaterials Group floor, and the Science floor(s) will be located in the middle of the building. As the project moves into the next phase the University should establish a process for defining the needs of Science Research.

The attached List of Program Spaces summarizes the type, quantity and programmed and actual sizes of each space. The attached drawings are color-coded to indicate space type (wet lab, lab support, dry lab, meeting, service, circulation) and pie charts indicate the amount and relative proportion of each. Also indicated are student desks and, where there is wet lab space, student bench positions. There is an important correlation between the two, and we have endeavored to keep the quantities of each in balance on the Bioengineering & Biomaterials, Chemical Engineering and Science floors. The length of bench allocated to each student is also an important metric, and this number is noted on those floors. As indicated on the plans, the amount of wet lab bench space per student is summarized as follows:

Group LF Bench Students LF/Student
1.0 Bioengineering & Biomaterials Group 648 80 8.1
2.0 Chemical Engineering Group 672 66 10.2
5.0 Science Research 648 80 8.1

Number of Lab Groups

An interesting development in the schematic design phase has been the realization that the building will likely accommodate a substantially greater number of lab groups than had been thought previously. This is due to the inherent efficiency of the open laboratory planning concept requested by the University, to the number of student benches/desks provided in the current design, and to further discussion and greater clarity as to the likely size of School of Engineering lab groups. The chart below shows a comparison of the presumed capacity of the building during programming, and upon completion of schematic design.

# Student Desks/# Lab Groups
Group Programming Schematic Design
1.0 Bioengineering & Biomaterials Group not yet known/7 80/10 (8 students/group)
2.0 Chemical Engineering Group not yet known/5 64/8 (8 students/group)
3.0 Computing, VR, Simulation Group not yet known/3 43/7 (6 students/group)
4.0 Controls and Sensor Systems Group not yet known/3 32/5 (6 students/group)
5.0 Science Research not yet known/7 80/10 (8 students/group)
Total not yet known/25 299/40 (7.5 students/group)

It should be noted that with the open plan laboratory design concept space will be assigned by the bench or desk, not by the room, and to accommodate this larger number of lab groups will require an oversight structure to assure that occupants do not simply “spread out,” and occupy more space than they need.  It is respectfully suggested that the University consider and implement such an oversight structure well in advance of the building’s occupancy.


Hazardous Materials Control Areas   

As noted above, and as discussed in several meetings, it is preferable to locate the Chemical Engineering Group on the top floor because (due to their higher utilization of chemicals) they will have a significant number of fume hoods with associated large supply and exhaust ducts. Air handlers and exhaust fans will be located in the penthouse above and duct runs will be shorter and usable space will be maximized if Chemical Engineering is located on the top floor.  The Building Code of the State of Connecticut stipulates that if the overall quantity of hazardous materials is kept below a certain threshold (e.g., 300-400 gallons of flammables), the entire building may be considered a single “Control Area,” and the Chemical Engineering Group may be located on any floor.

If it is not realistic to keep the quantity of hazardous materials below the threshold noted in the Building Code it will be necessary to create multiple control areas.  When a building contains multiple control areas the Building Code states that higher floors may contain only limited quantities of hazardous materials, and as such, it is likely Chemical Engineering would be required to be located on a lower floor, which as noted above would result in more space lost to duct shafts. In meetings with both faculty members and EHS it was discussed that under the single control area scenario half of the overall allowable quantity of hazardous materials might be used by Chemical Engineering (e.g., 150-200 gallons of flammables). It is anticipated that the Chemical Engineering floor will accommodate approximately eight lab groups which suggests an allowance of approximately 20 gallons per lab group.

This was deemed to be acceptable both to EHS and to Chemical Engineering Group faculty representatives. EHS noted that they prefer to not to have lab groups accumulate large quantities of hazardous materials, and that with the University’s “just in time” chemical delivery methodology it should not be necessary for them to do so.  Early in the next phase Mitchell | Giurgola will prepare a memo summarizing this issue, after which the matter will be reviewed with the Fire Marshall, in accordance with EHS’ recommendation. EHS suggested that they would document the hazardous materials utilization of relevant existing lab groups for review with the Fire Marshall.