Lord, Aeck & Sargent and Office dA reinvent the Hinman Research Building for Georgia Tech
The Hinman Research Building rehabilitation and adaptive re-use re-energises an important piece of Georgia Tech’s built heritage by transforming it into a flexible new annexe for the College of Architecture, including new studio, lab, classroom and research spaces. The original building was anchored by a 50-ft-tall industrial high-bay shed, which has been re-programmed in the vertical axis and left open and flexible in the horizontal axis. The uninterrupted floor functions primarily as studio space, but can be re-configured for final reviews, projections, large installations, or as a venue for parties and graduation. The high-bay also participates in an urban network of quads and public spaces that articulate the College at large.
Suspended infrastructure above the high-bay serves multiple uses below and enables new circulation to adjacent spaces: the 'crib' mezzanine is hung by slender rods from a re-purposed bridge crane to add studio space; a 32-ft-wide vertical-lift door completes a 'high water mark' of pin-up surface and becomes a projection surface when raised; the spiral stair, wrapped in guardrail mesh suspended from the trusses, activates the south wing; an array of retractable lights hung from the ceiling offer lighting for the drafting hall and other events. A general aesthetic of suspended filigree emerges from these elements, producing a middle ground for the large high-bay room.
It was important to the school that new interventions compliment, not compete with the pedagogical clarity of Hinman's early modernist composite steel / masonry construction. The architects tapped into the building’s latent potential with subtle grafts of steel and plywood to satisfy structural, code, program and sustainability requirements to achieve LEED Gold Certification. Stairs were brought up to code with new guard and handrails of birch plywood. Apertures were carved out of masonry walls to facilitate spatial communication, satisfying both programmatic and life safety requirements.