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morphosis architects has completed a new educational building for lawrence technological university (LTU) in michigan that provides advanced facilities for robotic and biomedical engineering, life sciences, and other related programs. known as the ‘taubman complex’, the building seeks to enhance connectivity between the school’s various engineering and design disciplines, previously housed in separate buildings, as well as within existing and future regions of the campus.

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the educational building provides advanced facilities for robotic and biomedical engineering
image by nic lehoux (also main image)

 

 

the complex is among the first buildings constructed as part of major plans to expand LTU’s existing campus. morphosis conceived the scheme as an ‘extrudable section’ that can be extended in phases to accommodate the school’s growth over time. this method also ensures the scheme’s future functionality and architectural integrity. lifted bridges connect the structure to neighboring buildings, while a carbon-fiber circulation orb houses the main staircase and marks a new point of access.

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a ‘circulation orb’ is found at the center of the primary façade 
image by nic lehoux

 

 

the spine of the elongated structure is formed by two floors of laboratories, which overlook a ‘flex-space’ that runs the length of the building. this open volume serves as the school’s collaborative heart, providing an expansive and re-configurable hall for informal discussions, pin-up critique sessions, and lectures. the building is illuminated via clerestory glazing, with light diffused through an ETFE scrim along its eastern façade. structurflex was responsible for developing the building’s innovative façade.

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the spherical form is made from carbon-fiber
image by nic lehoux

 

 

beyond adding flexible collaborative spaces and laboratory facilities, we identified opportunities to use the form of the building to establish a new axis for the school that would enhance links between existing buildings and act as a bridge to future regions of the campus,’ explain the architects. ‘the bridge-like form of the building defines the periphery of the campus and enhances the presence and view of the university from the adjacent major roadway.’

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the orb marks a new point of access to the complex
image by nic lehoux

 

 

in part, the extendable design pays homage to detroit’s role as a center of american engineering innovation. albert kahn (1869-1942), founder of albert kahn associates — the project’s architect of record — was the primary architect for the region’s emerging automobile industry where he conceived state-of-the-art factories for henry ford. over a century later, many of kahn’s innovations and techniques have been revived and incorporated within the recently opened ‘taubman complex’.

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the structure houses the main staircase
image by nic lehoux

morphosis-architects-thom-mayne-taubman-complex-at-lawrence-tech-university-michigan-designboom-02
the volume is illuminated from above via a circular skylight
image by nic lehoux

morphosis-architects-thom-mayne-taubman-complex-at-lawrence-tech-university-michigan-designboom-02
laboratories overlook a ‘flex-space’ that runs the length of the building
image by nic lehoux

morphosis-architects-thom-mayne-taubman-complex-at-lawrence-tech-university-michigan-designboom-02
the building seeks to enhance connectivity between the school’s various engineering and design disciplines
image by nic lehoux

morphosis-architects-thom-mayne-taubman-complex-at-lawrence-tech-university-michigan-designboom-02
the building can be extended in phases to accommodate the school’s growth over time
image by nic lehoux

morphosis-architects-thom-mayne-taubman-complex-at-lawrence-tech-university-michigan-designboom-02
in part, the design pays homage to detroit’s role as a center of american engineering
image by nic lehoux

morphosis-architects-thom-mayne-taubman-complex-at-lawrence-tech-university-michigan-designboom-02
the expandable scheme ensures the scheme’s future functionality and architectural integrity
image by nic lehoux

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concept sketch by thom mayne

 

 

project info:

 

name: taubman complex at lawrence tech
location: 21000 west 10 mile road, southfield, michigan 48075, USA
client: lawrence technological university
site area: 3.24 acres / 1.31 hectares
size: 125,000 sqf / 11,613 sqm
program: labs, classrooms, offices
design: 2012 – 2014
construction: 2014 – 2016
type: educational

 

morphosis team
design director: thom mayne
project principal: brandon welling
project architect: aleksander tamm-seitz
project team: chris eskew, michael nesbit, atsushi sugiuchi
advanced technology: cory brugger
project assistants: natalie abbott, carmelia chiang, sam clovis, tom day, ryan docken, bart gillespie, mauricio gomez, parham hakimi, jonathan kaminsky, hunter knight, sarah kott, katie macdonald, nicole meyer, derrick whitmire, pablo zunzunegui
visualization: jasmine park, nathan skrepcinski, sam tannenbaum

 

consultants
architect of record: albert kahn associates
landscape architect: albert kahn associates
civil engineer: professional engineering association, PEA
structural engineer: albert kahn associates
MEP engineer: albert kahn associates
geotechnical engineer: the mannick & smith group, inc.
fire protection: albert kahn associates
cost estimator: kirk value planners

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