Saiful Bouquet is the Structural Engineer of Record for the new $200M Chen Neuroscience Research Building at Caltech. The building is currently in construction. The proposed building will be a 3-story building above grade and 2 subterranean levels, with approximately 155,000 gsf. This new research facility will have collaborative space for wet, dry, and computational laboratories. The support facilities include a vivarium that contains animal holding areas, procedure rooms, and related vivarium support spaces. The Chen Research Building also includes auditorium, offices, collaborative spaces for scholarly activity, and conference rooms to accommodate faculty, professional researchers, graduate students, post-doctoral scholars and administrative support.
The nature of research activity proposed in the Research Building requires special structure dynamics consideration especially as it pertains to foot-fall indicated vibrations included on above-grade floors. A maximum vibration velocity of 2,000 micro-inch per second (mips) measured on top of the structural floor slab (for moderate pace walking) was set as the limit for all lab and lab support spaces. More stringer vibration sensitive spaces such as core labs are located at B2 basement level. For all other non-lab related areas, a less strict vibration criterion of 8,000 mips was used by SBI to economize the floor slab construction.
SB explored various structural systems at the early stages of the design, which included steel construction as well as concrete one-way beam column system, and a concrete flat plate system. Concrete systems generally have a better vibration resistance than steel structures because of their increase mass and stiffness. A hybrid system consisting of steel superstructure and concrete flat plate at below grade was finally selected as the most cost-effective system. A complete three-dimensional floor vibration analysis was performed by SBI to verify the adequacy of the vibration criterion. Buckling restraint braced frames were used as the seismic resisting system for the building. The brace frames were located in such a way so as not to impact the functional layout of the building.