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The Klaus Advanced Computing Building – A Case Study in Flexible, Sustainable Design for Computer Science Research and Teaching

Gary C. McNay, Perkins & Will

The 210,000 square foot Klaus advanced computing building at Georgia Institute of Technology will house advanced computing research laboratories for the College of Computing and Electrical and Computing Engineering. With this project 486 surface parking spaces move underground into a 210,000 square foot parking deck, 2 major pedestrian pathways will be created, and multiple buildings and landscapes are physically connected to form a cohesive computing engineering center for the campus. The building includes instructional labs and classrooms for the core building users and the campus as a whole. This project advances new strategies in storm water management and flexible building and infrastructure systems strategies. Natural daylight and artificial indirect lighting are seamlessly joined to provide a solution which exceeds the highest standards for visual comfort in computer rich environments, and provides for a 40 percent reduction in the heat load generated by light fixtures. The building as a whole is 40 percent more efficient than required by current energy codes and is expected to receive a LEED™ Silver rating.

The poster illustrates land use, site goals and ecology, community design and construction, water use, energy performance, energy security, daylighting analysis, and rain garden detail.


In planning and designing The Klaus Advanced Computing Building, we discovered important lessons that apply to computer-specific laboratories, as well as to general laboratories.

The planning team confronted particular challenges specific to computer laboratories. Design strategies related to raised flooring, lighting, and furniture selection were formulated to meet the unique needs of a technology lab. Meeting the distinct planning and construction challenges inherent in a computer lab—specifically, power and data wire management and distributed, server-driven, cooling loads—provided valuable strategies and solutions throughout this project.

Lessons that can be applied to a broad spectrum of laboratory planning and design emerged during this project. Particularly useful was learning how to support collaboration inside and outside the lab space. The costs and benefits of various sustainable design strategies—including DOE2 energy modeling and lifecycle cost payback analysis—became readily apparent. The process of pursuing LEED™ certification for the building revealed the costs and benefits of committing to sustainable design.

Labs21 Connection:

The decision to design The Klaus Advanced Computing Building using sustainable laboratory concepts impacted the entire approach. This poster explains specific methods used to achieve a sustainable, high-performance/low-energy lab.

  • The concept of rapid design prototyping using 3-D computer models and animations was employed to gain quick consensus on design solutions.
  • Upfront cost modeling with continuous management of the costs of each individual discipline was utilized to establish goals and track performance.
  • A broad range of sustainable water efficiency strategies are a part of the design approach. Rain gardens, biofiltration, and condensate harvesting are provided to create a stable landscape without piped, metered water.
  • To achieve lighting optimization and reduce energy consumption, the building has full use of t-5 high output indirect fixtures with occupancy sensors, daylight sensors, and continuous 1 percent dimming.

By explaining the process and methods used in a sustainable approach to laboratory design—and in particular, the design of an advanced computer lab—the poster illustrates how these strategies lead to added efficiency and continued improvement throughout the life of the building.


Gary C. McNay is a senior member of the Science and Technology team at Perkins & Will. His role is to lead all phases of the programming, planning and design for public and private academic teaching and research labs. Over an 18-year career, Gary has planned, programmed, designed and managed new and renovation projects with construction value over $450 million for higher education clients. Recent experience includes: Laboratory/Science buildings at Spelman College, Georgia Institute of Technology, Winona Stare University, Birmingham Southern College, and the University of Texas Arlington.


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