Biological and Physical Sciences Building one step closer to reality

By: Jennifer Knudsen and Jennifer Swedell

The Biological and Physical Sciences Building (BPSB) on the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) campus passed a major hurdle, receiving design and environmental approval at the July UC Regents meeting. Rumor has it that the project, which was the eighth of 10 projects presented, was approved in record time. The approval came just days before the Design Development documents were issued to the client.

The scientific mission of the BPSB is to blend or “interdigitate” the richly diverse research departments of Neurobiology, Quantitative Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry in a way that hasn’t been done before on campus.   The Neurobiology group is developing techniques to allow neuroscience researchers to study the brain and how it operates at a more fundamental level of detail. A satellite vivarium designed to house rodents will be shared by Neurobiology and Quantitative Biology to accelerate and augment new research initiatives. The Chemistry and Biochemistry group will occupy two floors and will potentially host the first 1.2 Ghz Magnet in the United States, a state-of-the-art imaging tool that will help researchers peer into the chemical fingerprints of molecular-scale subjects. Much-needed undergraduate labs for Biology and Chemistry will provide light-filled teaching labs and learning studios to absorb the latest techniques and trends in their respective fields.


Teams and visitors in the building can meet in conference rooms with views to the Pacific, breakout to informal scholarly activity space, or gather on the main exterior terrace with views of the Pacific Ocean, the recently renovated recreational field and Urey Green – a major campus open space which will be redesigned as part of the project. A 175-seat auditorium will be dedicated to research symposia to share findings of the BPBS researchers with the campus and the rest of the world.

The project will be the first building on campus to comply with UC Sustainability Policy under the new Title 24 code, targeting a 40% energy use reduction over the previous version of the code. Some of the energy-saving design features include high-efficiency fume hoods, chilled beams in lab and offices, operable windows in offices and demand ventilation air quality monitoring in the research labs, allowing the air changes to step down when the labs are not in use. As a response to the state drought, the project is tracking a 45% reduction in water usage through the use of efficient equipment and fixtures, drought tolerant planting and a condensate recovery system. The building orientation and façade materials have been designed to optimize daylight and views, while addressing solar height gain and glare through the use of innovative façade materials such as electrochromic – self-tinting – glazing on the east and west facades and a honeycomb glazing unit on the south.

UCSD is in the process of selecting a Construction Manager for the project to join the design team and provide preconstruction services. The project is scheduled to complete Construction Documents in early 2016 and start construction soon thereafter.




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