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Urban Awarded Renovation of Iconic Richards Medical Research Laboratories
Publication Date
December 3rd 2011

Urban Engineers, Inc. (Urban) is proud to announce the selection by the University of Pennsylvania to provide engineering design services for the world renowned Richards Medical Research Laboratories in Philadelphia, PA. As a sub-consultant to EYP Architecture, Marvin Waxman Consulting Engineers, a division of Urban, will be providing Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing, Fire Protection, and IT services for the historical restoration and renovations of the building as it is repurposed for the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Cognitive Neuroscience.


Designed by architect Louis I. Kahn, the iconic Richards Medical Laboratory has been recognized as one of the most architecturally significant buildings in North America and is registered as a National Historic Landmark. In 1961, the Museum of Modern Art sponsored an exhibition of this facility, describing the building as “probably the single most consequential building constructed in the United States since the war.”


Urban’s Director of Building Systems, James A. Bilella, PE, said, “MWCE is extremely pleased to continue its 30 year professional relationship with the University of Pennsylvania. The renovation of Richards Medical Research Laboratories is a great opportunity to showcase our building system design expertise.”


The first step in the design process will be a feasibility study to identify historic components of the original building systems that should be re-used or memorialized in the renovation. MWCE will participate in identifying and quantifying what kinds of equipment and routing need to be considered to best integrate systems – including piping, ductwork, conduit runs and other devices. “The integration of the new building systems will be a critical aspect of the design process of the Richards Building. The use of BIM technology will allow us to not only confirm the “fit” of various systems, but can also be used to visualize the end product, to share this vision with others, and to be certain that when completed, the installation will extend the life of the Richards Building in a way that retains the Kahn legacy,” stated Bilella.


The initial project is budgeted at $10 million with subsequent phases to complete the entire transformation of the Richards Medical Research Tower.