The Penn State University College of Engineering & Research Is Building An Extremely ‘STRONG’ Future.}
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The Penn State University College of Engineering & Research Is Building An Extremely ‘STRONG’ Future.

STATE COLLEGE, PA (Sept. 2, 2021)

The PSU College of Engineering Research & Teaching Space 2 Building (West 2) is a multi-story (4-story plus a basement) 105,000 gross square foot facility with an estimated construction value of $63M with 26 primes. Creating this state-of-the-art facility involves thousands of hours of labor and hundreds of people on the construction site.

Figure 1. The PSU College of Engineering Research & Teaching Space 2 Building

General Contractor for the project is Leonard S. Fiore Inc. under the Construction Management by Whiting-Turner. The building is attached to the new West Deck parking deck being constructed first, however, the West 2 construction schedule will overlap with the parking deck project for several months of concurrent construction. The West 2 Building will be Penn State University’s new “Engineer’s Toolbox” with a high-bay research space housing multiple College of Engineering programs including: The School of Engineering Design, Technology, and Professional Programs (SEDTAPP); the Learning Factory; the Factory for Advanced Manufacturing Education (F.A.M.E.) Lab; and some research components of Architectural Engineering and Civil & Environmental Engineering.

Akron Rebar Company is supplying all 650 tons of structural reinforcement steel to the project with installation of the rebar by it’s placing company; Akron Erectors Inc.

The building space will consist of a teaching and research space, general purpose classrooms (GPC’s), offices, conference space, a computational computer lab, and “build” studios in a highly collaborative environment showcasing “engineering on display”. This new, modern, iconic landmark building will be visitors’ introduction to the PSU College of Engineering as the starting place for recruiting and orientation tours and home for all first-year engineering students.

West 2 will have two 48-seat active learning General Purpose Classrooms on the lower level, as well as several studio spaces for engineering design. The “build” spaces, wood and metal shops, and “Learning Factory” will be areas where students learn about and utilize tools and machinery such as welding, 3D printing, and laser cutting.  West 2 features Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) decking -currently cutting edge in the United States construction industry. Rather than a traditional slab on metal deck building, this building will have steel beams and columns, with a timber deck and concrete topping slab. The CLT decking is also a fitting design compliment to the wood curtain wall system with triple-pane glazing to enhance the thermal comfort along the building’s expansive east facing façade viewing the re-designed quad.

The research high-bay area, located between the main West 2 building and the West Parking Deck, will consist of a 45’ x 60’ reaction floor (Strong Floor) and 30’ high reaction walls (Strong Walls). This will be the focal point of the new Engineering Research and Teaching Facility, the Strong Wall/Strong Floor Structural Testing System will be used by PSU for testing strengths of structural construction materials such as Rebar, Concrete, and I-Beams. The system is configured in an L-shape to enable testing forces from multiple directions, utilizing over-head cranes, hydraulic actuators, and other equipment within the high-bay research facility as part of a complete structural testing system.

Figure 2. Strong Wall/Strong Floor Structural Testing System

Akron Erectors Inc.
leads the charge in the herculean task of installing over 250 tons of rebar into the highly advanced system with more than 40,000 individual pieces placed to extremely precise tolerances. This involves 450 post-tension cables which total 14,500 lineal feet, and 1,000 cable sleeves including the rack system. The complete Strong Wall/Strong Floor System is constructed of 14,000 ft³ of cast-in-place concrete with a specified strength of 5,000 psi at 28 days. Both the Strong Wall and Strong Floor present challenges as they have to be flawless aesthetically as well as perform under the tremendous test forces placed upon the system.

Figure 3. Virtual Design Construction

The Structural Engineering team at Akron Rebar Company spearheaded by Andrii Zaichenko Ph.D., M.Sc.,B.Sc. (Materials Science) have been critical to enhancing the proficiency and efficiency of this project. Utilizing Virtual Design Construction (VDC) to create 3D constructible models, the Akron Rebar Company team focused application of this innovative technology to the real world construction process, this expertise has proved indispensable in conveying critical build information to the field teams.

As Mr. Zaichenko explained; “By using modern 3D modeling technologies, we managed to develop a unique methodological chain that allowed us to avoid most of the problems that usually arise during the construction of such structures”. “The Strong Wall/ Strong Floor System is not just another project, it is the result of a joint interweaving of science and the latest technologies in the reinforced concrete industry” he continued.

Figure 4. Strong Floor


Project progress can be viewed live via the PSU Construction Live Feeds: (Camera 1) (Camera 2).



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