Rice Hall Site Visit, Pt. 1

Ground Floor

“Showcase Lab”
The engineering school has a first year lab with everything from circuit board to robotics. They asked for access to the outdoors so they can take projects into the courtyard between Rice and Olson. They’re going to have panel or accordion doors that open to the side. They discussed the possibility of “roll-up doors” but there were issues with sprinklers when the doors rolled up. 

The researchers “didn’t want carpet in the labs” and the architects were concerned about acoustics with a hard floor and a hard metal-deck ceiling, so they settled on a particular, non-PVC masonry in conjunction with five-square foot unistruct drop-down panels. There is still “some concern” about the PVC-free concrete since it’s a newer material.

Showcase Lab, Ground Floor

Freight elevator
Re: Fire-rated partitions: shafts are all two hour enclosures (as are the mechanical shafts) because they extend all the way up the building. One hour partitions around the electrical closets.

Freight Elevator

Requested a 150 seat auditorium. Standard composite deck. Lay the rebar and pour the concrete. Standard overlap with rebar that’s tied together. Room outfitted with two flat-screen panels, perhaps one smartboard.

Ground Level Auditorium

Mixture of labs and building services space. Room called for server space. This is going to be a server room with a three foot raised floor. Lots of chilled water going to computer room air-conditioning, lever units, there will be at least four along one wall. Wet-sprinklers, but they’re high temperature so the last things to go off.

Lower Lever Corridor

Concern about anything getting wet?
Always concern about drywall getting wet, but most of the “purple drywall” is water resistant anyway. Also measures taken to prevent water from flowing down the elevator shaft. Roof is weather tight already. Some of the fireproofing is fairly resistant to water, but most areas have gypsum based fireproofing that’s not made to be exposed to water. 

University decided to construct the building on a fast schedule. It went from planning to construction in about 18 months which is “unprecedented’ at the university. Target completion date is fall 2011, which would have the final building delivered in 40 months.

Why the fast pace?
President Casteen felt there wasn’t enough research space in the school and believed that in order to attract researchers from a global rather than domestic market facilities needed to be improved.

Re: the generator in the basement, which “may not be very pleasant when it’s running.”
Performed an “air entrainment” study of the entire precinct before beginning construction, to perceive what would be the best spot for the generator, and “there isn’t one.” As a result, there is a high-powered fan attached to the generator exhaust to shoot the air up 60 feet so it gets above the top of the building and drifts off.

How tall?

Approximately 76 feet. Floor to floor height is 18 feet slab on the ground, rest is 14 feet. “That all has to do with trying to stay under the high-rise height.”
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