A new building is making its way onto the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities campus. A state of the art Health Sciences Education Center complete with simulation training and LKPB is engineering and designing the electrical, mechanical, plumbing, medical gas, and fire protection systems.


Key aspects of the architectural design include glass curtain wall facades, state of the art simulation labs, open study areas, large lecture halls, and easily-traveled circulation areas. A three-level connection to adjacent Philip Wangensteen Building, will tie the new addition to the renovated areas and reconfigured central staircase leading to life below ground in the existing U of M tunnels.


As you can imagine, there aren’t many open plots of land on the Twin Cities campus. The existing Diehl Hall is being demolished to make way for the Health Sciences Education Center. Much of the engineering work will involve re-routing existing main lines, caring for utilities that need to remain intact to be reused after demolition and reconfiguring some of the systems. A handful of systems will be reused and upgraded, including some things in the tunnels. They will need to be reorganized to be fully-operational after the surrounding demolition and during construction; then tied back into new systems when the building is completed. There’s much more going on behind-the-scenes through all of the phases the building process than one might think.


Currently, LKPB Engineers is alongside Perkins+Will Architects, The SLAM Collaborative Medical Simulation, EVS Inc. Civil Engineers, Palanisami & Associates Structural Engineers, Elert & Associates Technology Consultants and The Sextant Group AV & Virtual Reality Consultants in the Construction Document phase. The office is abuzz with coordination meetings between disciplines, milestone checklists, and modeling. Lots and lots of modeling. Beginning with energy modeling that seems to be updated and reloaded weekly as architectural changes are made to windows, room sizes, glazing finishes, and ceiling types. Then comes lighting calculations, plumbing fixture counts, fire protection types and requirements, medical gas planning for simulation and clinic rooms, reconfiguration with new information about required technology control rooms, and decisions on which types of HVAC systems to utilize in certain areas of the building.


All of these systems and their corresponding equipment are being modeled in Autodesk Revit, by our trained technicians and engineers. Getting more intricate as the days go on, it began with the layout of the mechanical room, a sketch shown here, finding room for all of the systems to coexist and help with building functions including convenience, comfort, and safety. Soon after, the main lines that would carry the water, air, data, electricity, and waste were modeled. Smaller pieces of equipment were placed including Variable Air Volume units for individual temperature control in each room and switches, alarms, receptacles and sensors for electrical control. Next will come the placement of exhaust fans, connection of plumbing fixtures, and after the ceiling designs are confirmed the layout of diffusers in rooms and circulation areas and final lighting layouts will be completed.


There are small projects that come into our office that have a set architectural plan, with small systems that don’t require extensive coordination, minimal zones requiring less equipment, quick layouts of electrical devices, diffusers and lighting. The mindset to complete those projects has to shift drastically to accommodate the weekly changes, connection to existing systems, in-depth technology that involves additional consultants and multiple levels of phasing to configure existing to remain, demolition, connection to new areas and keeping adjacent areas in use during construction. Our teams are proving to work well together, meet deadlines and acquire great insight for use on future large-scale projects.