Florida Polytechnic University Applied Research Center

Lakeland, Fla.

Award of Merit, Higher Education/Research

Submitted By: Skanska USA Building, Inc.

Owner: Florida Polytechnic University

Lead Design Firm: HOK

General Contractor: Skanska USA Building

Civil Engineer: Chastain Skillman

Structural Engineer: Walter P. Moore

MEP Engineer: Affiliated Engineers

Landscape Architect: David Conner and Associates

The 95,000-sq-ft, $34 million education and research facility is designed to grow the university’s academic portfolio and allow greater flexibility for students and researchers to pursue grant studies and projects. Inside are 59,000 sq ft of labs, 27,000 sq ft of offices and 4,000 sq ft of classrooms organized around a large central atrium to encourage student congregation and collaboration between classes, as well as provide flexible space for university events.

The project team experimented and innovated in its construction, including adapting a suction system normally used to lift glass to instead lift 270-lb concrete panels on the building’s angled façade. The unique approach facilitated faster placement of both typical and angled panels, saving approximately four to six weeks of installation time and providing the project’s rigging contractor with a new technique that has since been applied successfully in other projects. Creativity was also critical in managing supply chain disruptions, from quickly pivoting to alternative supply sources to expediting installation once the needed components arrived on site.

One of the building’s key infrastructure elements—a chilled beam system—tends not to be used in Florida due to the generally humid climate. By incorporating a pre-treatment section to dry out the air prior to introducing it into the building, the design enabled the project team to replace chilled beams planned for corridors and near entrances/exists with forced air ventilation systems. This approach reduced overhead ceiling clearances and ductwork, providing more overhead space for robust lab systems and a lifetime of building energy savings for the university.