Vanderbilt to redesign planned engineering research building

University targets summer 2014 groundbreaking

Vanderbilt University is having a proposed engineering research building redesigned in anticipation of a summer 2014 groundbreaking.

Judson Newbern, VU deputy vice chancellor of facilities, said the university met with neighbors about a week ago to discuss the project but has since deferred any appearance before the Metro Board of Zoning Appeals to request variances involving the building’s sky plane and setback.

“The building is being reduced in scale, and we do not think we will need the variances,” Newbern (pictured) said. “We’re working on the massing and trying to figure out the best configuration for the site.”

Boston-based Wilson Architects is designing the building, which will house primarily engineering research space and some shared medical research space and an innovation/entrepreneurial center. Wilson specializes in the design of research buildings and has served as the architect for three VU buildings.

Of note, the building will have a clean room for nanotechnology research.

The original plan for the building — approval of which must be made by the university’s board of trustees in April 2014 — was undertaken two years ago, to an extent, to mark the December 2011 arrival of Philippe Fauchet, the VU School of Engineering dean. (Read more here.)
The building will be located on a site currently home to green space and a terrace next to Olin Hall (home to the VU School of Engineering) and will share an atrium with the modernist structure. It will be bordered by Olin Hall (seen below in an image courtesy of Google Maps) on the east and Garland, 25th and Highland avenues on the north, west and south, respectively.

Newbern said it is too early to provide information regarding, for example, square footage and exterior design materials and forms. However, he said the building might reach the height of Olin Hall, which rises about 90 to 100 feet.

“We don’t want to underutilize the site,” Newbern said, noting the prominence that 25th Avenue offers to the VU campus.