Florida’s first STEM-focused college, Florida Polytechnic University, marked its formal opening and the beginning of the 2015 school year on Saturday. The Innovation, Science and Technology (IST) Building that is the centerpiece of the campus was designed by renowned architect Santiago Calatrava and built by Skanska, as part of a collaborative team of numerous design and construction partners.
You might be impressed by the project’s facts: this 160,000-square-foot structure was completed on-time and within the strict $60 million budget. This was accomplished despite such immense challenges as 90 percent of the structure being on a radius and having to find a way to build never-done-before louver arms that rise up to 12 stories above grade, and then hydraulically lower – all to ensure the optimum amount of daylight enters the building. And importantly, there were no lost-time injuries over the four years of work, thanks to each team member staying highly engaged.
Calatrava designed the building to inspire students with a sense of optimism: “My first aim is to make an inspirational environment for the students and the professors and everyone working here.”
MG McGrath fabricated the each of the 84 pergola frames—comprising 104 rods each—measures 39 ft tall by 50 ft in length—or nearly 70 ft from end to end. The two-story reinforced concrete structure—which includes labs, classrooms, offices and common areas—is surrounded by a system of 84 connected pergolas that visually enclose the terraces that encircle the building. MG McGrath also played a key role in creating the 94 individual hydraulic cylinders arms made of aluminum. The operable louvers help the building produce a robust uniqueness for the new university campus. That movement is substantial in other ways, as well. Each louver arm is engineered with the capability of a maximum upright position equal to approximately 65˚ above the horizontal plane. In the fully lowered position, the operable louver arms will rest at 48˚ below the horizontal plane. Traveling that total 113˚ distance will take between seven and 10 minutes. The building’s exterior is wrapped by a pergola of lightweight aluminum trellis that covers walkways and gathering spaces. In addition to being visually stunning, the pergola also helps the building function efficiently, reducing the structure’s solar load by 30 percent.