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High Bay BLAST Laboratory

University of Pennsylvania | Philadelphia, PA
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Project Details

University of Pennsylvania astronomers and a team of international researchers have developed the most highly sensitive telescope of its kind to be carried by balloon. BLAST: The Balloon-borne Large-Aperture Sub-millimeter Telescope is helping researchers understand the formation and evolution of stars and galaxies. BKP’s design for the High Bay BLAST Laboratory provides a place for this work by providing faculty and students with a facility for research, fabrication, and telescope display. Astronomers must carefully construct the telescope in the lab, bringing it outdoors on the steel beam for calibration with the stars, before eventually sending the telescope on its balloon trip; once the telescope returns to Earth, it must be reconstructed in the laboratory before future missions. The new lab supports and accentuates the astronomers’ work and the cycle of research and reconstruction inherent with the telescope. The nearly cube-shaped lab design features a 42-foot high ceiling, exposed structural steel framing, and a crane beam and glass sliding doors for moving the BLAST telescope indoors or out. A distinctive showcase window affords passers-by a visual learning experience as they see astronomers at work.

Media Coverage

American School & University: Architectural Portfolio

Plan Philly: Penn’s new High Bay Lab home for super-sensitive telescope

See a gallery of photos related to the telescope’s first launch in Antarctica

  • Client

    University of Pennsylvania

  • Cost

    $1 million

  • Size

    1,200 square feet

  • Honor

    2013 American School & University Architectural Portfolio Outstanding Design

Images © Jeffrey Totaro