Renovation and expansion of the 100-year-old Doherty Hall at Carnegie Mellon University provides students with more hands-on, project-oriented laboratory programs and with more innovative teaching methods. Changes to the lab program produced more focus on research with both discipline-specific and interdisciplinary programs. Instrument techniques and modern analytical instrumentation are also integrated into the learning experience.
The project includes 47,000 sf of new construction, 54,000 sf of renovated space, and an additional 27,000 sf of life safety upgrades.
An eight-story, $26.4-million addition was constructed to house analytical chemistry labs, the interdisciplinary science lab, an outreach lab, a synthetic lab, an experimental physics lab with an integral computer cluster, three physics classrooms configured for both small desktop experiments and computer work, a 113-seat lecture hall, and an auditorium.
The first floor houses offices for the School of Art, chemical storage space, glass washing areas, a loading dock, mechanical space, and a new entry to the building. The second and third floors are dedicated to the School of Art. The fourth floor features the physics lab and classrooms, while the fifth floor is used for the analytical lab and office space, and the sixth floor houses the undergraduate cluster, lecture hall, outreach lab, and interdisciplinary lab. The synthetic lab, conference room, and office spaces are located on the seventh floor, while the upper level is used for mechanical space.
The two glass-enclosed exterior features that distinguish the addition from the original building are the epistitial bay on the west facade and the emergency egress stairway that juts out from the north face of the building from two stories above ground to the upper floor. The epistitial bay, which has a single-pane glazed outer wall to protect it from the weather, allows the large laboratory exhaust ducts to be clearly visible with views into and out of the lab spaces.
The floorplates are very large, ranging from 7,500 to 9,500 sf. Versatility is achieved by using fixed benches with multiple utilities, power, and data connections. Utilities are raised above the lab benches creating space for additional equipment or setups. The casework also features moveable shelves and task lighting. Instruments are placed on mobile carts that are easily maneuvered through the wide aisles. Freight elevators service each lab, allowing carts to be moved from lab to lab quickly and easily.
Casework and benches are place at angles to the wall or in groups of three, creating areas conducive to teamwork. The synthetic laboratory has 27 six-foot hoods that permit 54 students to work in the space at the same time. A pod arrangement of three hoods placed together in a triangular arrangement is used to create a sense of teamwork and to prevent blocking the perimeter windows. There are also additional hoods for dispensing and waste collection.
The impact of the expansion and renovation project is evidenced by an increasing number of students choosing chemistry as their major. Approximately 120 chemistry majors attended the University in 2005 compared to 50 in 2001. The new labs have also made it possible to accommodate a dramatic increase in lab course enrollments.