Contact Us
Contact Us

"*" indicates required fields

University of Pennsylvania, Holman Biotech Commons

Burns served as engineer of record for the LEED Silver-certified library, incorporating an active chilled beam system as part of the building’s high-performance building renovation.

The University of Pennsylvania renovated a biomedical library to feature new collaboration spaces, expanded study rooms, and a digital fabrication lab with 3D-printing capabilities. The 22,800-square-foot interdisciplinary learning and multimedia design space now includes a mixed-reality lab for faculty and students to experiment with virtual and augmented reality.

Burns supported Voith & Mactavish Architects on the $11.5-million Biotech Commons renovation, leading the project’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing (M/E/P), fire alarm, and fire protection design services.

Reimagining the traditional library space involved several design innovations:

  • Coupling dual energy recovery wheels with active chilled beams to achieve roughly 40 percent energy-efficiency improvements compared to a traditional variable air volume (VAV) system
  • Replacing a 40,000 cubic feet per minute (CFM) constant volume air handling unit with a demand-controlled dedicated outdoor air system (DOAS), delivering 100-percent outdoor air ventilation
  • Installing radiant ceiling panels and improved glazing to minimize heat loss through floor-to-ceiling glass windows
  • Limiting vibrations and noise to maintain the low sound tolerances of a directly adjacent neurobiology lab
  • Coordinating construction activities to fit mechanical equipment within a tight physical space

Construction completed in 2021.

This project was featured in the Jan/Feb 2021 edition of Building Design + Construction


Philadelphia, PA


University of Pennsylvania


Higher Education

Learn more about Burns' higher education services

Higher Education

Fast Facts


chilled beam system

84% energy savings

space heating, compared to ASHRAE 90.1

45% energy savings

space cooling, compared to ASHRAE 90.1

Key Team Member

Joseph Zagorski, PE

Higher Education/Facilities & Infrastructure Project Manager