High-Performance Glazing and Mechanical Strategies for Research Buildings

Christopher Hall, IPS
Samantha Kalup, IPS

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Interior and exterior glazing systems promote visual and programmatic transparency in modern laboratory buildings. The resulting aesthetic qualities accompanying these material selections often result in clean, "high-tech" forms and spaces that are inspiring and visually appealing. Conversely, these aesthetic goals present considerable sustainability challenges, given the poor insulation qualities of glass that hamper mechanical system design. The dichotomy between visual transparency and energy consumption often appear to work in direct opposition to one another.

This presentation will illustrate a series of architectural glazing and HVAC organizational strategies that explore this relationship at several scales. Within a broader site context, how can a "prismatic" laboratory design solution enhance a campus master plan within a dense suburban setting while respecting salient landscape features? Within the building, how can a contemporary research facility promote visual and programmatic transparency while meeting green building standards and minimizing energy consumption? Spatially, how can a mechanical system integrate within a large-scale glazing envelope while promoting interior visual continuity to the landscape beyond? What HVAC components can accommodate aggressive laboratory air requirements while minimizing energy consumption? How can a rigorous equipment placement strategy acknowledge architectural design intent? What HVAC controls strategies promote long-term sustainability, ensure user flexibility and provide for future building expansion? How do local code requirements influence design decisions?

A recently completed case study will be presented that help answer these questions. A series of diagrams will explore the relationship between glazing and mechanical system integration as a means of creating holistic, sustainable programmatic solutions.

Learning Objectives

  • Demonstrate a research lab organizational approach that accommodates site-specific constraints and opportunities;
  • Identify stakeholder priorities and their role in influencing design strategies;
  • Provide an overview of the site-specific mechanical utilities available, illustrating the roles of site redundancy requirements and cost pressures in determining mechanical systems strategies; and
  • Describe how an integrated mechanical design approach can contribute to reduced operational costs.


Christopher is a Director of Process Architecture at IPS. Chris leads many of the firm's significant laboratory projects and excels at incorporating unique site and building program requirements into creative, functional solutions. His particular interest lies in the integration of design and building technology.

Samantha is a Mechanical Engineer at IPS. Samantha is considered a subject matter expert in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Modeling and leverages her advanced understanding of air and fluid movement to optimize mechanical layouts. She thrives providing innovative solutions tailored to each project's specific needs.


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