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Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute
 

Hi-Tech + Hi-Style at New Marine Research Center

The first new academic building in Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Ft. Pierce is now open. At the $14 million, 42,000 SF, waterfront Research II Building, PGAL coupled landmark-style design elements–such as a two-story glass-enclosed lobby sporting a glass-enclosed rooftop cylinder reminiscent of an Old Florida lighthouse–with high-tech interiors for 18 lab lines, 40 offices and four bullpens for researchers. The building is a signature design model for future campus expansion.

The 2-story, tilt-wall structure features three modular components housing laboratories, support space and offices and two architectural knuckles accommodating additional research support space.

Design challenges included creating a signature design model for future campus expansion while seamlessly integrating with some two dozen existing buildings at the institute which was purchased in 2007 by FAU as a new satellite campus. Project dollars were heavily focused on state-of-the-art research space/equipment. However, while economical and highly-functional, the building design includes numerous landmark elements including a large, plaza/courtyard landscaped with native trees and plantings, connecting to another research facility and the waterfront and a façade which tracks the curvature of the wraparound roadway it faces.

Site challenges included: Working around pilings from the site's original building; considering acoustical and vibration impact from nearby railroad tracks; specifying proper materials to counter moist, high-salt air, and modifying an onsite water reverse-osmosis plant which did not have capacity to serve the new research building. A slip stream was designed to divert water from the plant to a new chiller.

Awaiting LEED Silver certification, this infill building features outstanding daylighting, ultra-efficient lighting and controls, energy-star rated lab equipment, energy-efficient re-circulated air, a low-pressure drop distribution system, water-use reduction features, and natural landscape and building materials.

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