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Philadelphia — The Harman Group (THG), a firm specializing in structural engineering and parking planning and design, announced the topping off of the Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center (RISC) at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. Earlier this summer, students, faculty, staff and alumni, along with members of the design and construction team, had the opportunity to participate in signing a structural beam for the building. The beam was installed on the third floor of the RISC and will remain exposed to display the signatures in perpetuity.

The Harman Group provided structural engineering services for the 103,000-square foot, $75 million project, the largest capital project in the school’s history. Turner Construction Company is the builder and Boston-based architecture firm, Payette, designed the building to encourage collaborative learning amongst the College’s science and engineering departments. The RISC will have flexible spaces that can adapt to new technology, varying group sizes, and diverse research experiences.

“I last walked out of a Lafayette College building as a student in 1977,” said Kirk Harman, president and managing principal at The Harman Group and a Lafayette alumnus. “It was an honor to have the opportunity to work on this significant project at the school where my educational foundation in engineering was built.”

RISC is situated on the north side of the campus’ quad, adjacent to the Anderson Courtyard, in-between two existing buildings and is set into a hillside, requiring a unique structural configuration of the five-story building. The building terraces down the steep slope with the main entrance from Anderson Courtyard into the 3rd floor with two floors below and three floors visible from the courtyard.

The foundation system employs spread footings, underpinning of the existing buildings and replacement of an aging 15-foot-tall retaining wall on the slope. The structure is a concrete slab on metal deck floor system with a steel superstructure. A steel vierendeel truss system provides open space at the entrance, supporting the brick exterior wall on the south side. The building was also strategically designed with vibration control to prevent hindrances on any research in the lab spaces.

The building will bring together Lafayette’s biology, computer science, environmental science, and neuroscience departments to promote the integration of different sciences and to foster collaboration and innovation. In addition to academic departments, the building will house the Dyer IDEAL Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Hanson Center for Inclusive STEM Education and will also connect to the Acopian Engineering Center building.

RISC is slated to open for the fall semester of 2019. This is the third project The Harman Group has worked on at Lafayette College; previous projects include the film and media studies building William C. Buck Hall, and Keefe Hall, a five-story student residence building.

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