Current Issues: Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building – Updated 11.4.13

Updated November 4, 2013. The Papadakis ISB recently received an Interior Green Wall Award at the 2013 CitiesAlive conference. Take a look at these two articles to learn more:

Updated April 22, 2013. On September 20, 2011, the Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building, home of Drexel’s biology department and an important venue for scientific innovation and research, opened its doors. The LEED Gold building, designed by the Toronto architecture firm Diamond & Schmitt, features a five-story living biowall–the largest in North America–that utilizes plant biology to naturally filter the air. The biowall, created by NEDLAW Living Walls and installed by Parker Plants, offers an organic warmth and softness to a bright atrium characterized by hard lines, and is complemented nicely by a stunning helical staircase.

Below are some photos of the atrium.

helix helixbw

IMG_6254 IMG_6253 IMG_6250

Photos of the exterior of the Integrated Sciences Building are featured below:


Updated August 30, 2011.  A scene from Finian’s Rainbow:  Woodland Walk has reopened, but will remain open for two days only before construction on the LeBow College of Business Building narrows access along the walk for 2-1/2 more years.

The PISB is the building on the right.

Updated July 6, 2011.  Did you ever plant a wall?  The biowall would have made Euell Gibbons proud:

Updated May 13, 2011.  Glass is being installed on the student oriels:

Updated April 21.  The staircase is fully assembled:

Updated April 13.  Based on all of the comments received and new information about the fabrication of the stairs, I have decided that the metal panel is the appropriate solution for this problem.  Gypsum board would be subject to cracking and casual damage at the lobby level.  There are too many fabrication requirements to maintain a completely clean line on the underside of the stairs.

Original Post April 11, 2011.  The Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building is seventy-five days from Substantial Completion.  On of the most significant design features is the ornamental staircase rising four stories in the atrium, currently being assembled:

How to finish the underside of the stairs is the question.  Three options are available: 1) paint the exposed steel, revealing the beauty of the fabrication and craftsmanship, 2) enclose the underside of the stairs with gypsum board, or 3) enclose the underside with a metal panel.  The options are presented in order of cost from low to high.

Please reply to this post with your thoughts.


9 thoughts on “Current Issues: Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building – Updated 11.4.13”

  1. The idea of exposing the underside is intriguing but not particularly appropriate to the aesthetic of this building which favors clean lines and crisp detailing vs. exposed structure and rough weld joints. The GWB solution would be preferred however craftmanship is critical to its success. I think the metal would be the most forgiving over time.

    1. Agreed. Craftsmanship with the metal panel would also be a requirement. Shop drawings for seaming diagram and concealed fastening system would ensure (somewhat) the clean look and tailored finish that building commands. I look forward to seeing the finished monolithic form against the organic back drop of the bio-wall. It will be stunning.

  2. I’d suggest the metal panel or some other material (wood? metal mesh?) that could be fabricated in small modules that can be applied repeatedly along the twisting surface. GWB sounds very difficult to pull off successfully.

    1. a tight weave mesh is an interesting idea. It could provide a monolithic form yet may be more forgiving to the compound curvature. However, I suspect that would be a costly solution and not a readily availble material to meet our schedule.

  3. Kim’s initial post resonates with me. The atrium is crisp and the exposed stairs could change that aesthetic.

  4. The craftmanship in the metal there is pretty impressive. If done well, painting could be quite crisp too. Seems to me that it brings some options for contrast, building off the colors of biowall and others in the atrium, particularly if the periphery and undersides were different. I do worry that gypsum board will be bunged up on ground floor and begin to show its age as the building gets older.

  5. GWB will look the best when its all completed. Metal corner edges around the edges will give it a cleaner look with fresh paint.

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