Tepper Quad
Award of Merit

Owner: Carnegie Mellon University
General Contractor: PJ Dick
Lead Design Firm: Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners
Associate Architect: Renaissance 3 Architects
Structural & MEP Engineer: BuroHappold Engineering
Civil Engineer: Langan
Landscape Architect: Sasaki Associates
Subcontractors: Noralco (Bulk Excavation, Shoring and Sitework); Lighthouse Electric; McKamish (Mechanical and Plumbing); PJD SPG2 (Concrete)

The team says the $201-million project represents Carnegie Mellon University’s “future vision as an ecology of active learning, research and resources.” Anchored by a five-story, 315,000-sq-ft building, the quad’s new open space has already become a campus hub for creativity, collaboration and innovation, according to the team. Those same attributes defined a design and construction process that made Tepper Quad emerge from a constrained, steeply sloped site adjacent to one of Pittsburgh’s busiest intersections.

The process included coordinating with many agencies to construct a 28-ft-deep trench for site utilities beneath a busy street. That greatly reduced the potential for delays and disruptions that would have had a ripple effect on downtown traffic.

To maximize Tepper Quad’s future flexibility, the team used an innovative concrete cast-in-place, voided slab system, also called a BubbleDeck. Formed around a honeycomb structure made of more than 220,000 recycled plastic balls, the lightweight BubbleDeck allows longer structural spans with fewer beams and columns, according to the team.

A 900-sq-ft elevated mock-up of North America’s largest BubbleDeck project to date helped improve construction speed, cutting concrete needs by 35% and reducing overall costs by 10%.

The fast-track 18-month schedule that required multiple shifts and coping with two winter construction seasons was completed on time and on budget.

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