The new $125-million, multidisciplinary Parker H. Petit Science Center in the heart of downtown Atlanta augments laboratory and classroom space to accommodate an expanding and changing curriculum. It also enhances the east side “science zone” of Georgia State University’s urban campus.

Photo Courtesy Mccarthy Building Cos.
Photo Courtesy Mccarthy Building Cos.

In addition to basic science teaching and research labs for the College of Arts and Sciences and Health and Human Services, the new science center is home to GSU’s research and education programs in biology, chemistry, nursing, nutrition and physical and respiratory therapies.

The project includes dry and wet laboratories, including high-containment biosafety level-2, -3 and -4 labs. Construction of the spaces not only features highly specialized finishes but also HVAC and electrical systems considered high density and difficult to coordinate and plan. Working hand in hand with the end users and the design team, McCarthy Building Cos. completed these areas without any major issues.

After starting the project in December 2007, McCarthy encountered numerous unaccounted areas with subterranean debris and found that all of the soil was unsuitable, requiring negotiations to deal with the scope of soil issues.

The Parker H. Petit Science Center, completed in April, is the first component of a multiphased redevelopment. The university hopes it will raise the profile of the school’s science program, both in the diverse science it supports and in its distinct design.

The soaring glass entrance creates a memorable impression among its surrounding aged urban context. It distinguishes the Science Center both as a landmark for the east side of the campus and an anchor for the science zone.

The open, light-filled ground floor lobby directly connects the main entrance to an outdoor courtyard area that will tie together future development and provide an inviting area for casual interaction.

During the course of the project, McCarthy and its subcontractors lead philanthropic projects to help the community, including the renovation of living quarters for an outreach facility; the renovation of an art studio at a school for children with emotional, psychological or behavioral issues; and installation of an outdoor area at a Ronald McDonald House.

In addition to the philanthropic projects, members of the team reached out to aspiring construction professionals at universities such as Georgia Tech and Southern Polytechnic to teach classes, give seminars and review senior projects.

Key Players

Owner: Georgia State University
Contractor: McCarthy Building Cos.
Architects: CUH2A, a division of HDR; tvsdesign
Engineers: PBS&J, KSi Structural Engineers, CUH2A, a division of HDR