Back to all projects

Georgia Institute of Technology Van Leer Interdisciplinary Design Commons

Gilbane completes major renovation of Blake R. Van Leer Building on fully operational Georgia Tech campus.

State-of-the-art facility for students to invent and test ideas

The Van Leer IDC project had an incredible mission to foster design, creativity, innovation, and invention for students at Georgia Tech and serve as a “visible sign that design/engineering is a profession committed to the betterment of humanity.” Students from all disciplines utilize the space to invent and test their ideas.

Gilbane utilized green building strategies to deliver the Van Leer Interdisciplinary Design Commons in Atlanta, Georgia. The 15,600-square-foot renovation transformed a two-story rotunda and auditorium into a three-level collaborative workplace. The facility includes four major components:

  • design/collaboration
  • fabrication
  • assembly/prototyping/testing
  • support

The design/collaboration area houses a computer lab, project room, conference room, and lounge space. Fabrication areas comprise a water jet lab, electronics lab, wood shop, machine shop, and wet lab. Support features state-of-the-art computing and simulation tools, such as 3D printers, a drill press and high-powered lasers.

Located in the center of campus, another component of the program is a signature outdoor amenity that functions as an extension of Tech Green, as well as, the exterior extension of the IDC. It is imagined as a place for testing and having a connection to the IDC programmatically and visually.

Site work and improvements included demolishing the existing space and installing new hardscape/landscape and reworking existing and installing new underground utilities for the Plaza. The IDC’s structure and façade has new openings to introduce natural light through windows and window shading, removal of the existing CMU and replacing with brick façade creating a new third floor of structural steel, and monumental staircase. Additionally, all work was performed while Van Leer’s main building, attached via a connector to the auditorium, remained fully operational.

Client Value

During the renovation of the existing building, the concrete structure, that was originally thought to be a self-supporting cantilever structure, experienced a downward deflection. As Gilbane had provided a Laser Scan of the building prior to demolishing any of the existing concrete masonry unit walls, we were able to conduct another laser scan of the building after the deflection event. The comparison of the two scans was instrumental in the design team’s ability to understand the amount of original deflection versus the new deflection and provide structural analysis.