Great Glazing: Michigan State University’s Bio Engineering Facility

Photos by Integrated Design Solutions, Kevin S. Marshall; courtesy of Valspar

The basics: Michigan State University’s new Bio Engineering Facility is a four-story, 130,000-square-foot research laboratory building on the campus in East Lansing. A palette of gray, white and black in glass and metal distinguishes the facility from both the traditional red brick of the campus standard and beige of the cast concrete of the more recent structures. Laboratories have an open-floor design whose modular construction can change as research evolves. The building features organically inspired design elements, including a four-story atrium with a stairway that resembles a DNA strand.

“On the exterior, the curtain wall design corresponds to the activity taking place inside," says IDS senior associate and project architect, Kevin S. Marshall. "The communal spaces are represented by tall sections of curtain wall and the workstations by the shorter sections. While the exposed structure allows for tall floor-to-floor spans, we chose to emphasize the horizontal.”

The players: Architect, Integrated Design Solutions; general contractor, Clark Construction Co.; contract glazier, Glazing Solutions Inc.; glass manufacturer, Guardian Industries; glass fabricator, Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope; curtain wall and entrance systems manufacturer, Tubelite Inc.; metal systems suppliers, 3A Composites USA, Alucobond, Sobotec Ltd.; metal systems finishers, Linetec (finisher), Valspar (coatings manufacturer)

The glass and systems: Tubelite Inc. provided the Bio Engineering Facility’s curtain wall and entrance systems. The Tubelite 400 Series curtain wall uses an exterior screw-applied pressure bar to secure the glass in place. Guardian Industries supplied glass for the curtain wall, and Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope fabricated the insulating glazing units.

The high-performance curtain wall manages solar heat gain and condensation with its insulated and low-emissivity coated glass. The façade incorporates a graduated pattern from transparent to solid using two different silkscreened patterns, one with 40 and another with 80 percent dots, for variations in shading that reduce glare. Interior light shelves and automated shading further control light on the building’s south side.

Complementing the curtainwall, a ribbon of tri-colored composite metal panels further defines the main entrances. Black brickwork and stainless steel rainscreens carry the facility’s color palette from exterior to interior. Glazing Solutions installed Tubelite’s Narrow Stile and Wide Stile Doors with continuous hinges and subframe for the entrances.  Linetec finished Tubelite’s aluminum framing in Valspar‘s Fluropon coating systems in Bone White.