University Building Designed with Concrete Precision

When the University of Chicago opens its William Eckhardt Research Center in early 2015, the state-of-the-art structure will embody the institution’s reputation for scientific excellence.

Tribco Construction was required to have the engineer’s sign-off on all architectural concrete forms. MFG CP provided mock-up forms in advance, and the contractor poured a four-void- test panel. Every effort was made to ensure that the forms provided the smooth architectural finish needed to execute the facility’s state-of-the-art design.

The William Eckhardt Research Center at University of Chicago will house much of the institution’s Physical Science Division and a new Institute for Molecular Engineering, when it opens in early 2015. “The combination of a state–of–the–art laboratory building and the University’s intellectual climate of rigorous inquiry and collaboration should be a tremendous draw for scientific talent from around the world,” says University Provost Thomas Rosenbaum.

The fiberglass dome forms were custom-made by MFG CP to meet the project’s aesthetic requirements, and to support unusually thick topping slabs. “Two-way joist design is usually topped by a 4- to 4 ½-inch slab,” says Derek Patton, general manager for Tribco. “These ceilings will support the load of 12 to 18-inch slabs.”

About one-third of the Eckhart Center’s lower levels will house clean rooms that will filter out airborne contaminants and reduce interference with molecular research. All rebar in these areas is epoxy coated, and no metal-on-metal contact is allowed where coated and non-coated rebar intersects (both are shown here).

More than 1700 lightweight fiberglass dome forms were used to build the ceilings of the Eckhardt Center’s specialized laboratory space.

Chicago-based Tribco Construction is using fiberglass dome forms to create two-way joist slabs for laboratory ceilings at the University of Chicago’s William Eckhart Research Center. The job is unique not only because two-way joist design is uncommon in this market, but also because of the Center’s unique and exacting specifications.

The Eckhardt Center’s designers chose exposed concrete to meet the facility’s unique aesthetic and structural criteria. “There’s nothing extraneous. It all fits together in an understandable, logical and beautiful way,” says Steve Wiesenthal, associate vice president for Facilities Services and University architect. The project was designed by Chicago architecture firm HOK and Jamie Carpenter, artist and architect.

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