Innovative Design and Construction Changes the Way Engineering Students Learn

The [College of Engineering] has enhanced the institution at large as it has made way for world-class research and teaching while still maintaining a commitment to the university values, which are student-centered. Dr. Bishop calls Engineering Hall “more than just a building, but a platform for innovation” and credits the project’s success to Opus’ tireless pursuit of excellence, a mission they share with the University.

Dr. Robert H. Bishop
Dean of Engineering
Marquette University
With a vision to put the principles of engineering on display, Marquette University enlisted Opus to make this aspiration a reality. The result is an award-winning, innovative and interactive learning facility that was built to teach.

Marquette University’s College of Engineering is a five-story, 115,000-square-foot facility with a glass exterior that exemplifies the University’s commitment to today’s engineering students.

The architectural design of the building was a collaboration of Opus AE Group, L.L.C. and HGA Architects. Opus’ extensive experience in institutional construction paired with HGA’s engineering expertise resulted in a state-of-the-art facility that surpassed the university’s initial vision.

Design features include:
  • a primarily glass exterior;
  • extensive use of glass for interior walls in laboratories, shops and classrooms making them readily visible to students, faculty and visitors and 
  • exposed finishes and mechanicals help students understand basic construction and building management principles and options.

Involving Clients in the Design Process

Opus executed its integrated design-build approach to achieve all of Marquette’s goals for the engineering hall. This meant Opus worked closely with the faculty and staff and the partner architecture firm from project inception to completion, involving clients in every key decision.

This process included using a virtual building design and development platform, Building Information Modeling (BIM) , to share design updates and changes with the university team. Using this three-dimensional virtual model technology, Opus architects refined the engineering building while sitting at a conference table with university leadership. Working as an integrated team, this real-time decision making allowed the client to make final decisions on the spot.

An Engineering Building that Inspires Future Generations of Technological Leaders

The College of Engineering’s Dean and faculty expressed a need for collaborative work spaces within the facility. Working alongside university leadership and HGA, Opus was able to create common areas throughout the building, allowing teams to gather, share ideas and solve problems.

This distinct learning environment is student-centric with engineering principles as the main focus. This living teaching facility features:

  • windows into the building mechanical rooms that allow for systems and equipment to be visible from commons spaces and open ceilings allowing for MEP systems to be exposed overhead;
  • a tuned mass damper applied to the commons stair that can be used to demonstrate the principals of dynamics to the students;
  • space on the green roof that allows students to view and work with the solar panels and to conduct outdoor experiments;
  • a 65-inch plasma screen displaying building information, including thermal performance of building insulation, interior and exterior humidity and temperatures, wind speed, solar energy created, water, power and steam usage;
  • a state-of-the-art Engineering Materials and Structural Testing laboratory with specially designed strong wall and strong floor to conduct load and fatigue testing. The lab is also home to a 10-ton rolling overhead crane and
  • a shop complete with mills, lathes, table saws, rapid prototype machines and other equipment allowing students to build mockups and prototypes of their designs.
Additionally, 130 strain gauges located on various structural elements throughout the building display wind shifts, beam stresses, temperature, water collection and usage, humidity and other building factors.

Built with sustainable construction practices, the building includes LED lighting, Photovoltaic panels, a green roof, rain water storage system and an interactive 'kiosk' that displays current building data such as water and energy usage. Features such as these helped the building earn LEED Gold Certification.

The facility has received many honors including the Daily Reporter's Top Projects and Best in Show 2011, a 2011 Business Journal award and the 2012 Mayor's Design Award.