This is a new 55,000 square foot facility that contains research offices, laboratories, conference rooms and industrial scale high-bay research and testing facility serving an automotive industry client who designs and manufactures automotive heavy truck chassis for nearly every major auto manufacturer.
Industrial buildings are rarely environments that anyone is happy to visit or work. They are typically a direct, and often nefarious programmatic response to the function inside with little consideration for the occupants needs. The approach to this project was to create the healthiest, most effective and comfortable work environment that would enhance human performance while maintaining the functionality of a typical high bay industrial space. The building serves as an example of these ideas and is a living laboratory to influence others in the building industry to pursue low energy high performance industrial research facilities. Located in Mexico’s Research Park for Technical Innovation (PIIT), a science and technology park, which is a partnership between government, universities and the private sector to seek economic growth through technical innovation. The 1000 hectare campus is host to more than 50 research centers devoted to R&D as well as the development of technology innovation in nanotechnology, biotechnology, mechatronics and advanced manufacturing, information technology, clean energy and advanced materials development.
The building’s form is a direct response to the climate, site, and ecology that envelop it and the desire for a flexible, high-performance workplace. Many of the integrated passive design strategies, such as daylighting and natural ventilation, strongly support both energy and human performance.
A saw-toothed roof draws from the geometry of old factories and the surrounding Monterrey Mountains. The angled elements of the roof provide abundant natural daylight to the spaces below at the building’s northernmost elevations. By modulating space and light thru a fractured roof geometry, the building is able to maintain a rational plan to meet the rigorous requirements of the program, while providing a strong connection to the landscape both visually and metaphorically.
The second major feature of the building is the perforated metal skin that clads the entire façade. The custom aluminum skin is both perforated and etched. It incorporates interplay of solid and void, orchestrating areas of both light and shadow, while limiting views into the research areas, necessary to protect proprietary trade secrets. Thus, the industrial program has been transformed from a black box environment to a light filled space with a strong visual connection to the outside.
Each of these strategies and materials, exploit the potential for performance and sensibility while achieving a rich and interesting sensory and aesthetic experience.
Programmatically, the building is divided into two volumes – warehouse/labs and offices functions. The upper story of the offices cantilever over the lower story to the west and is clad in a highly perforated metal skin and is the main entry facade. The lower story is mainly glazed and open to reveal portions of the research laboratory, machine room and other industrial functions not requiring visually security. From the exterior, the warehouse appears to float lightly over the mechanical and intellectual heart of the program, reversing the notion that an industrial building should be solid and protected. Rather, the building seems very open and is intended to feel vulnerable revealing parts of its inner program to public view.
The main entry of the building is located at the northwest corner under the cantilevered volume. It is flanked by a sunken garden to the north, which is overlooked by the surrounding offices. The garden connects to the adjacent water reclamation wetland for the entire PITT campus. A large operable door located off the entry in the main public space opens to the garden outside.