By Bryan Hay
When a family member moves out of the house, there’s usually an opportunity to do some renovations in the vacated space.
Such will be the case with Acopian Engineering Center, which will undergo renovations and facility upgrades after the computer science department moves from Acopian’s fifth floor into the new Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center, slated to open in fall 2019. It’s the first major renovation project at Acopian since 2003.
“The computer science department moving out of the fifth floor into the new sciences center created an opportunity to rethink how the Acopian was organized and make things better,” says Darin Jellison, project architect and principal with Blackney Hayes Architects of Philadelphia.
“The plan is to reorganize the building in a way that looks toward the future,” he says. “We’re looking at things like interdisciplinary lab space and opening the building up to provide comfortable surroundings, promote collaboration among students and faculty, and make the space more usable.”
Jellison says the most exciting part of the project is creation of lab space on the fifth floor to provide dedicated areas to bring together students and faculty in an environment devoted to promoting interdisciplinary learning and research.
Acopian’s third floor, with its entrance opening toward the Quad, will be redesigned to provide a large-event gathering area.
“It will give that entry more identity and create more buzz around the entire building,” Jellison says, adding that some classrooms will be reconfigured to make them more comfortable and welcoming.
“The building is a double-loaded corridor—you’re in the hall, you’re in the classroom,” he says. “There are gathering spaces in the building, but you wouldn’t necessarily know it. We hope to improve that with this project.”
Restroom facilities will be improved, and IT and maintenance closets will be relocated as well.
“Overall, spaces will be reconfigured to make them work better and promote the division’s vision for the future,” Jellison says.
Approximately 15 percent of Acopian Engineering Center’s 98,000 square feet will be improved. A corridor on the ground level will physically connect Acopian to Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center, completing the interdisciplinary link between the buildings that will dominate Anderson Courtyard.
Work on the Acopian project is expected to be begin after the Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center project is completed.
Key Dates in Acopian Engineering Center’s History
1912: Mechanical Engineering Lab, one of the first buildings at the site, built with funding from Andrew Carnegie.
1952: The main building that fronts onto Anderson Courtyard is built and named Alumni Hall of Engineering.
1966: A new wing is added to the east side of Alumni Hall of Engineering and named Dana Hall, after Charles A. Dana, a major contributor.
1982: The old Mechanical Engineering Lab is renovated and connected to Alumni Hall of Engineering (and Dana Hall) and renamed Dana Engineering Laboratory, after Eleanor Dana, wife of Charles Dana.
2003: Entire complex is renovated and named Acopian Engineering Center after Sarkis Acopian ’51 and his wife, Bobbye. This building houses the departments of Chemical Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering.