Physics and Nanotechnology Building

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Unity77
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Physics and Nanotechnology Building

Postby Unity77 » June 4th, 2012, 11:44 pm

Status:
* Under construction
* 144,000 GSF
* $83 Million
* Scheduled to be completed in December 2013

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FISHMANPET
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Re: Physics and Nanotechnology Building

Postby FISHMANPET » June 6th, 2012, 11:04 pm

There's a webcam watching the construction (which I had a bit of a part in getting setup).
http://cse.umn.edu/research/physicsnano ... /index.php

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Nick
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Re: Physics and Nanotechnology Building

Postby Nick » June 10th, 2012, 2:41 pm

One of our better uses of bonding money in recent memory.
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Re: Physics and Nanotechnology Building

Postby Nick » October 7th, 2012, 10:46 am

Science!
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woofner
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Re: Physics and Nanotechnology Building

Postby woofner » October 10th, 2012, 10:03 am

I'm a bit confused looking at the rendering and then at the work in progress. What is that small tumorous concrete growth jutting out of one corner? And why are there ground-level windows on basically only one side? Did someone at the U skip their CPTED course? That watercolor is really pretty, but I have a feeling this going to end up looking more like a self-isolating factory than anything else.

Ps the triangle between this building and the bend in Harvard is a big waste that will never be used.
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Re: Physics and Nanotechnology Building

Postby martykoessel » October 10th, 2012, 11:49 am

I believe that concrete block on the right will become the brick-clad block on the right hand side of this rendering:
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Re: Physics and Nanotechnology Building

Postby Silophant » October 10th, 2012, 5:17 pm

redisciple wrote:Ps the triangle between this building and the bend in Harvard is a big waste that will never be used.
What could they use it for? It's not that big of a space. I'm sure they'll turn it back into green space, which isn't a waste, in my opinion.

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Re: Physics and Nanotechnology Building

Postby woofner » October 11th, 2012, 5:05 pm

Silophant wrote:What could they use it for? It's not that big of a space.


Congratulations, you've discovered my point. Looking at the site plan, though, it seems they could fit an addition here.
Silophant wrote:I'm sure they'll turn it back into green space, which isn't a waste, in my opinion.
Are you really suggesting there's a lack of green space here? Have you been north or east or west of this site? Besides, it doesn't look like it will be landscaped for actual use, it will just be another pointless ornamental lawn. What real cities do is they put their buildings right up against the street and then designate actual spaces for public use, using such methods as bricks and fountains. The U seems to be aiming more for suburban office park, the sort of place where this lawn would fit just fine.
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Re: Physics and Nanotechnology Building

Postby Silophant » October 11th, 2012, 6:18 pm

What do you mean by "landscaped for actual use"? It'll be a lawn where students sit and study, or nap, or play frisbee, or whatever, just like the rest of the green spaces on campus. You're right, real cities do put buildings right up against the street, but a University campus isn't a real city, and shouldn't try to be, in my opinion. From a planning perspective, it's maybe unfortunate that Harvard is as bendy as it is through this area, but that decision was made a long time ago, and couldn't be fixed now without tearing down at least 2-3 large buildings.

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Re: Physics and Nanotechnology Building

Postby FISHMANPET » October 11th, 2012, 10:49 pm

So I found the Capital Planning & Project Management page about the project, looks like they've been taking advantage of the great views from the construction cranes at the rec center expansion.
http://www.cppm.umn.edu/physics.html

There are some more renderings and plans as well, so you can see that the concrete jutting out is on the north side, while the renders here are from the south and east side.

The renders of that green triangle do look pretty bad, just a bunch of tall native grass that nobody can use. I'm sure that's not the final design, just a place holder, and it will eventually be turned into something useful.

But as to campus vs city, I have to disagree with you Silophant. I had a discussion with a coworker of mine comparing UW-Madison to our campus. He says he wished there was more green space on our campus like in Madison, and I disagreed. They're different kinds of campus. Madison is built against a lake in a relativly small town. Close to a pretty good downtown, but still separate from it. Compare that to our campus. Built a bit farther off from downtown, but linked by streetcars on all sides, building up this urban enviroment that eventually stretched to downtown. The U is in the heart of the city, and should reflect that.

I like that this build is built on the former road in front of Akherman, it's just as close to Akherman as the rest of the buildings in this area are to each other.

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Re: Physics and Nanotechnology Building

Postby Silophant » October 11th, 2012, 11:27 pm

That is nice that it's close to the engineering buildings. My complaint is that they've apparently given up on the Gopher Way. As close as it is to Ackerman, I can't imagine a skyway or tunnel connection would have been too expensive, especially since they could have prepped for it when they renovated Ackerman last year. Oh well.

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Re: Physics and Nanotechnology Building

Postby FISHMANPET » October 11th, 2012, 11:57 pm

There's no good connections on that end of campus anyway, a route through Ackerman is pretty out of the way, it's faster to just go outside.

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Re: Physics and Nanotechnology Building

Postby MNdible » October 12th, 2012, 9:15 am

So, I don't understand what the concern is here. Are you suggesting that the building should be bigger so that it fills up its whole site? It's very clear from the aerials that this building's depth in the N-S direction is being informed / dictated by the pattern of the Cass Gilbert plan on the mall, and presumably in the E-W direction, it's as big as the program required it to be.

The suggestion that even this area of campus is suburban strikes me as bizarre. Yes, it's true it doesn't always share the typical urban pattern, but it's very dense and active, and the redevelopment of this long-fallow land around the old Memorial Stadium has been dictated first and foremost by the Scholars Walk.

This poor little piece of landscape seems an extra fussy thing to nit-pick over. If it were a sculpture, would we subject it the same scrutiny? The University hasn't done everything right always, but considering the number of internal and external forces that have pushed on this planning process, I think that these area will turn out pretty well. It's certainly a vast improvement to what's been there as long as I can remember.

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Re: Physics and Nanotechnology Building

Postby go4guy » October 12th, 2012, 9:17 am

I went to the U for 5 years, and i think the only time I ever used the Gopher Way was during my campus tour. Does anyone actually use that? And green space is a good thing in a campus like this with such density. I am all for a little green.

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Re: Physics and Nanotechnology Building

Postby woofner » October 12th, 2012, 9:39 am

Silophant wrote:What do you mean by "landscaped for actual use"? It'll be a lawn where students sit and study, or nap, or play frisbee, or whatever, just like the rest of the green spaces on campus.
Lawns don't actually work very well for intensive use, since it tends to kill the grass. When I worked at U of M Landcare we spent a lot of time reseeding the Mall and the main lawn at Coffman. Actually the most successful open spaces on campus use a combination of hardscaping and open lawns, like at Northrup or at the Alumni Center (cough a block from Physics & Nanotech cough). Those are able to attract people who prefer not to sit on the grass (otherwise known as snobs).

And yes, a University should apply urbanist planning principles because it operates more or less on a pedestrian scale. At that level for safety and quality of life things like CPTED, walkability and functional open space are important.
MNdible wrote: This poor little piece of landscape seems an extra fussy thing to nit-pick over.
Well I did put it in a PS - my main complaint about the building is the lack of ground floor windows on three of the faces Where I was going was that the building could have been aligned more on an east-west axis (the Cass Gilbert plan's influence pretty much faded away by this point) and freed space on the north end of the site for another building similar in footprint to Shephard Labs. Having looked at the site plan I don't think any of that is impossible, though, so I retract that criticism.

As for "a little green," the U is full of pointless little green spaces that exist solely to fulfill the suburban convention of the front lawn. They are typically not usable as open space. This may or may not end up as one of those spaces, it certainly is big enough to be functional. I don't think this part of campus is particularly worse for this, although the parking ramp has one, the Rec Center has one, the Armory and Field house each have one, Civil Engineering has two, Architecture has four, etc etc. The Rec Center addition mitigates this in its specific location and hopefully represents a change in direction for the U.
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Re: Physics and Nanotechnology Building

Postby Nick » October 12th, 2012, 9:58 am

go4guy wrote:I went to the U for 5 years, and i think the only time I ever used the Gopher Way was during my campus tour. Does anyone actually use that? And green space is a good thing in a campus like this with such density. I am all for a little green.
As recent U of M graduate who was a campus tour guide for three years, I will second this :lol:

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Re: Physics and Nanotechnology Building

Postby MNdible » October 12th, 2012, 10:55 am

redisciple wrote:As for "a little green," the U is full of pointless little green spaces that exist solely to fulfill the suburban convention of the front lawn. They are typically not usable as open space. This may or may not end up as one of those spaces, it certainly is big enough to be functional. I don't think this part of campus is particularly worse for this, although the parking ramp has one, the Rec Center has one, the Armory and Field house each have one, Civil Engineering has two, Architecture has four, etc etc. The Rec Center addition mitigates this in its specific location and hopefully represents a change in direction for the U.
I'd argue that a university's use of green space / open space doesn't look to the suburban front lawns as a prototype -- there are much older antecedents to look to. Cambridge and Oxford are fairly obvious and potent archetypes for what campuses "ought" to look like. These campuses, in turn, are descended from even older monastic architecture. If these models are suburban (and they may well be), it's in a much older understanding of what the word meant.

Not always, but often, the open spaces you're talking about are actually carefully designed to work with the buildings themselves. For example, of the four open spaces flanking Rapson Hall (Architecture), only one is just sod -- the other three are a designed mix of hardscape and selected plantings.

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Re: Physics and Nanotechnology Building

Postby woofner » October 12th, 2012, 2:08 pm

What exactly do you find monastically-derived about the U campus? Nolte and maybe Norris are all I can think of that really have elements. The Mall is much more Jeffersonian, either directly influence by the University of Virginia or through City Beautiful, and that comes more from the baroque notion of civic spaces I'd say. I'd be surprised if passionately deist Jefferson was very interested in monastic architecture.

Certainly the U's lawns are better than the typical suburban office park lawn (with some odious exceptions at the U and a few pleasant exceptions in the suburbs), but my point was more about functionality than aesthetics.
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Re: Physics and Nanotechnology Building

Postby woofner » October 12th, 2012, 2:14 pm

Forgot to finish my thought: Regardless of the original basis for the campus form, they are mostly just plopping buildings down where ever they have room for them now, and typically they are placed without reference to their surroundings. Though that's less the case with the Rec Center Expansion and Physics & Nanotech (the former's shape really plays off that irksome bend in Harvard and the latter's boxiness is definitely a reference to Akerman), it is definitely the case with other recent buildings, such as the Carlson addition, the bioscience park, and the big kahuna stadium/spaceship.
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Re: Physics and Nanotechnology Building

Postby MNdible » October 12th, 2012, 2:57 pm

redisciple wrote:What exactly do you find monastically-derived about the U campus? Nolte and maybe Norris are all I can think of that really have elements. The Mall is much more Jeffersonian, either directly influence by the University of Virginia or through City Beautiful, and that comes more from the baroque notion of civic spaces I'd say. I'd be surprised if passionately deist Jefferson was very interested in monastic architecture.


You're certainly right that Northrop Mall owes a huge debt to Jefferson's neo-classical Virginia campus plan. But I'd still argue that something that seems so purely neo-classical as Virginia is still a re-interpretation of the monastic cloister. Just because Jefferson was a deist doesn't mean that he wouldn't mine the rich historical precedents of educational architecture, all of which in the western tradition do go back to monasteries. Jefferson wasn't a pagan either, but he felt quite free to re-purpose an awful lot of Roman and Greek precedents.
redisciple wrote:Regardless of the original basis for the campus form, they are mostly just plopping buildings down where ever they have room for them now, and typically they are placed without reference to their surroundings. Though that's less the case with the Rec Center Expansion and Physics & Nanotech (the former's shape really plays off that irksome bend in Harvard and the latter's boxiness is definitely a reference to Akerman), it is definitely the case with other recent buildings, such as the Carlson addition, the bioscience park, and the big kahuna stadium/spaceship.
I'm going to disagree with you on this one. I certainly don't love all of the buildings that you've cited, but I think that the University and the architects they hire spend more time thinking about building design and siting than just about anybody out there -- we may sometimes be less than thrilled with the results, but they're hardly just plopping buildings down. Even the stadium was some nice elements to its orientation -- the way the horseshoe opens up to campus and the skyline, and the view you get looking down 4th Street into the stadium.


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