The A. Alfred Taubman Engineering, Architecture, and Life Sciences Complex is a new academic laboratory building that provides advanced facilities for robotics engineering, biomedical engineering, life sciences and related programs.
Af Kirsten Kiser
The design of the building evolved around opportunities to enhance connectivity at multiple scales among Lawrence Technical University (LTU)’s various engineering and design disciplines, previously housed in separate buildings, as well as within existing and future regions of the campus.
The spine of the bar is formed by two floors of laboratories, which look out into an open flex space that runs the length of the building. This flex space is the collaborative heart of the Taubman Complex, providing an expansive and re-configurable hall for informal discussions, pin-up critique sessions, and lectures. Clerestory glazing fills the flex space with light diffused through an ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) scrim along the east and west facades; in the evening, this scrim becomes illuminated by backlighting.
Beyond adding flexible collaborative spaces and laboratory facilities, the design team identified opportunities to use the form of the building to establish a new axis for the school — one that would enhance links between existing buildings and act as a bridge to future regions of the campus. The bridge-like form of the building defines the periphery of the campus and enhances the presence and view of the university from the adjacent major roadway.
The Complex is linked to neighboring buildings by lifted bridges, framing a new grand entrance and gateway to the university. Breaching the linear form of the building, a carbon-fiber circulation “orb” contains the main staircase and marks the entry to the building, while creating a focal point for the university quad.
The Taubman Complex is among the first buildings constructed in LTU’s major expansion and renovation effort, which will add new campus regions, buildings, and amenities to serve the university’s growing student population. To support this effort, the complex was designed as an “extrudable section”: an occupiable bar that can be extended in phases to accommodate growth while maintaining the function and design integrity of the building.