University of Minnesota
Shepherd Laboratories, College of Science and Engineering Gemini-Huntley Robotics Research Laboratory
Under the Minnesota Discovery, Research and InnoVation Economy (MnDRIVE) initiative by the State Legislature, robotics is an increasingly important component of the College of Science and Engineering research portfolio. The two-floor renovation of this occupied 1960s-era building consolidates several existing robotics research laboratories into one facility (including the Solar Vehicle Project team), showcasing student work in state-of-the-art lab and testing spaces and accommodating more students and new faculty hires made under the MnDRIVE initiative.
The project follows a BWBR-led predesign. From a new airy two-story open lab for flight tests to a cutting-edge lab with a large water tank for aquatic robots, each space balances academic and research needs with technological development and testing. The design focuses on “maker spaces” for the fabrication and testing of student-built robotics, as well as shared workshops that provide “dirty space” for fabricating experimental robotic equipment. Writable walls, shelving for devices in development, and protective netting over windows aid in the overall functionality of the department. The project also doubled the number of exterior windows on the first and second levels, filling the formerly dingy space with natural light and sharing the activity inside with the University community.
Infrastructure improvements and construction occurred while the floors above remained occupied. The team took great care to avoid disruptions, including considerations for vibration-sensitive research equipment and planning for heavy demolition to occur outside of business hours.
Size: 19,260 gross sq. ft.
Components: Open testing laboratories; shared workshops; student “maker spaces” and “dirty spaces”; water tank for aquatic robot testing; Patrick J. Starr Solar Vehicle Project Laboratory; ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulation) secure storage room; faculty offices; graduate student workstations; collaboration areas; student organization spaces; support spaces