Rendering of Rutgers University Weeks Hall; Rendering of Rutgers University Weeks Hall;

Rutgers University Weeks Hall of Engineering, Piscataway, New Jersey

A 21st century sustainable laboratory created to foster innovation and education

In 2012, Rutgers University hired Arup to collaborate with S/L/A/M Collaborative on the feasibility study and conceptual design of a new engineering hub to help foster innovation in sustainable design, energy, and manufacturing.

As the lead mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineer on the project, Arup worked closely with the University throughout the conceptual design process to establish its sustainability and energy goals. We continued in this role through the design and construction phases, ultimately helping the client achieve their goal of LEED Silver certification.

Opened in the winter of 2018, the Department of Engineering’s new flagship building will be dubbed Richard Weeks Hall of Engineering. The 105,000f2 facility does double duty as a cross disciplinary research incubator and a teaching centre and is intended to provide a gateway to the larger engineering community and industry stakeholders.

A twenty-first century science building

Weeks Hall’s state-of-the-art design demonstrates how the forces of change are reshaping science in the 21st century. The accelerated pace of technological advancement and a newfound emphasis on collaborative problem solving in the face of climate change is increasing demand for flexible research and laboratory spaces. This shift can be seen in Weeks Hall’s highly adaptable work spaces, which are designed to promote interdisciplinary problem solving and to evolve, efficiently and economically, with the times. 

Achieving sustainability can be a big challenge for laboratory buildings, which are among the most energy-intensive facilities in the built environment. This was particularly true in the case of the Weeks Hall, which houses a wide range of specialized technical facilities, including a concept lab, a manufacturing pilot lab, a rapid prototyping lab, an energy lab, a microfabrication lab, and a combined lab for aerospace, robotics, and mechatronics research. It was important to the University that their new engineering flagship demonstrate a commitment to sustainable values at every level, so they turned to Arup, a leader in sustainable lab design, to help develop MEP and fire safety strategies.

The Arup team used its knowledge of the megatrends transforming lab design to help the client make informed design decisions that supported their current academic and sustainability goals, while also providing enough flexibility to help them meet their long-term vision. ”

Gordon Carrie Gordon Carrie Associate Principal, Americas East Science, Industry & Technology Leader

Our design approach to Weeks Hall incorporated many of the principles outlined in our recent white paper, Future of Labs, which discusses the cultural shifts impacting lab design today. The resource-efficient building systems designed by Arup for this project, include an enhanced HVAC system, featuring energy recovery, chilled beams and efficient chillers; and a building-wide controls strategy that includes HVAC and lighting controls, and a “power controls” solution that automatically powers down lab equipment when it is not in use. To further reduce energy use, Arup’s MEP experts worked together to incorporate natural ventilation during mid-season conditions using infrastructure life safety features.

We also participated in developing a new 6,750f2 microfabrication cleanroom facility to house the Department’s existing equipment and new additions. The facility features a Class 10,000 clean room lab space for wet chemistry and dry processing, along with space for furnaces, associated control rooms, and back-of-house areas containing associated lab services, specialty gas cylinders housed in gas cabinets, a hazardous exhaust system, and a VESDA alarm system.

Rendering of Rutgers University Weeks Hall Rendering of Rutgers University Weeks Hall
Rendering of the Richard Weeks Hall of Engineering at Rutgers University

Active research and passive instruction

When opportunities arose, Arup collaborated with Engineering faculty and researchers to turn building systems into educational tools. One such tool is the hall’s smart controls system. The primary purpose of this system is to allow building operators to track and optimize their energy use, but Arup designed the interface to be used as an active educational tool as well. We also gave the Energy Environment Group the capacity to create an energy dashboard. Once designed, this dashboard will display energy use within the lab, while also capturing a range of data on the renewable energy prototypes developed by the lab and pilot tested on an adjoining terrace.