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  West Virginia University South Agricultural Sciences Building


Alpha Associates, Incorporated
209 Prairie Avenue, Morgantown, WV 26501
www.alphaaec.com


LOCATION: Morgantown, West Virginia 
Date Bid: Jan 2005
Construction Period: Feb 2005 to Dec 2005
Total Square Feet: 39,775 Site: 2 acres.
Number of Buildings: One. 
Building Size: First floor, 18,855; second floor, 17,720; mechanical penthouse, 3,200; total, 39,775 square feet.
Building Height: First floor, 14’; second floor, 14; penthouse, 14’; total, 42’. 
Basic Construction Type: Structural Steel/Type II. 
Foundation: Spread footings. Exterior Walls: Insulated metal panel. Roof: Modified bitumen. Floors: Concrete. Interior Walls: Metal stud drywall.


STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Alpha Associates, Incorporated - 209 Prairie Avenue, Morgantown, WV 26501
GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Mosites Construction Company - 4839 Campbells Run Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15205
ELECTRICAL & MECHANICAL ENGINEER: H. F. Lenz Company - 1407 Scalp Avenue, Johnstown, PA 15904


The project goals of the Owner represented a challenge in timing, expediency, energy efficiency and economical first cost for the design team. The University required a new building to house 7 plant pathology research laboratories and 2 teaching laboratories along with associated faculty office space from the College of Agriculture. The new building also needed to provide a 250 seat lecture hall. The building had to be designed and constructed within 18 short months. The design team was given 6 months to complete the design, the University required 3 months to bid and award contracts, and the successful bidder was given 9 months to complete the construction.

The ideal site location was adjacent to the existing Agriculture Sciences Building. The faculty formerly resided in a building slated for renovation at a separate academic campus about one mile away. The site itself was bound by the existing Agriculture Sciences Building to the North and a large buried electrical duct bank to the South. The new structure would become an addition to the existing Agricultural Sciences Building, uniting faculty and staff that had been separated for over 40 years by the two academic campuses.

The final program resulted in providing a large 250-seat multi-tier general purpose lecture hall, 7 research labs, 2 teaching labs, 12 faculty offices, a greenhouse and assorted support rooms, as well as unfinished “shell space” for future expansion, all within 40,000 square feet.

The overall plan of the two floors is bisected by a two story lobby. Faculty offices ring the outside of the building, providing much coveted natural lighting, along with the Greenhouse on the South East corner of the front facade. The research laboratories themselves are individualized to the research of the faculty, and are located within the inner portions of the building, and along the North face. The remaining area is taken up by a two story lecture hall, situated where windows were not desired or possible, due to the adjacency of the existing Agriculture building. The physical connection to the existing building was designed to connect to hallways at the ground and upper floor. The actual connection will be implemented at a later date as part of a planned future renovation.

The two main entrances to the building, South and West, were located and oriented to take advantage of student’s natural walking paths to and from classes. With the front facade being squeezed behind the large electrical duct bank, and a mandate by the University to preserve the coveted parking near the building, landscaping was shallow and relegated to the space between the building and the sidewalk.

The stacks on top of the mechanical penthouse further identifies the building as technology oriented, while also being a part of a very real heat recovery system for the University’s steam generating plant, as well as exhaust for the laboratories. The mechanical penthouse was designed for future expansion of the unfinished shell classroom space contained on the second floor. The HVAC systems for the lecture hall were located in “recaptured space” above the lecture hall area, resulting in a smaller footprint for the building.

The expediency of the project necessitated a building envelope that was fast and affordable, while at the same time providing a connection to existing white/gray masonry buildings from the 1950’s of the existing Agriculture Sciences Building. The architect chose an insulated steel panel system that provided a thermal value of R-14, and could be “hung” to the interior steel supporting frame. It was important that the building frame be very light in weight, as pyretic shale and a coal seam were present underground. Deep supporting caissons were to be avoided.

The metal panel system produced the look of monolithic stone without the associated cost, working well with the ribbon windows. The building was further accentuated by a blue waist band and matching coping, canopies, and window and door trim. While the components were produced by different entities, the paint system was color matched throughout the project for a coordinated appearance. The result is reminiscent of the efficient designs of the Bauhaus movement, with sparse exterior decoration blending art and technology.


DIV. 7: Insulated Metal Panels: Centria; Modified Bitumen Roofing: Soprema.
DIV. 8: Entrances & Storefronts: Kawneer. 
DIV. 9: VCT: Armstrong; Carpet: Designweave; Tile: Crossville. 
DIV. 26: Lighting: Metalux, Sure-Lites, Corelite, Paralux-Cooper.

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