Nanotechnology Building Material Selection

The new Nanotechnology Building on the University of Minnesota Twin City campus material selection has many categories to take into consideration.  Should the building material score highest in the category of practicality, economy, sustainability, or innovation?  When looking at the context of the building location, many of the surrounding University building are mostly constructed using brick, concrete, steel and glass.  These common building materials rank high in practicality, they are strong weather resistant materials that work well in the Minnesota weather conditions.

Material Context- Sekwang Oh

Other science and technology buildings around the world use similar building materials, brick, concrete, steel, and glass.  These materials are practical and strong materials which are common among university buildings.  They materials have other economic and sustainable benefits such as recyclability and generally less expensive than new innovative materials.

Typology- Sekwang Oh

The context and typology should be taken into consideration when design the new Nanotechnology building, but these materials are not as innovative as other materials that can correspond to the program of the building.  Other materials such as solar panels are innovative and relate to the program of the building by showing technological advances in science.  Solar panels also carry sustainable characteristics by reducing energy costs, although they are not very practical because of the expense.  Aluminum can have many desired benefits as well, it is almost 100% recyclable, lightweight, and can reduce energy cost, but it is an expensive material as well.  The  last innovative material looked at for the Nanotechnology building was plastic, the material is cheap, lightweight, recyclable, easily colored and shaped, and lasts forever.


The best candidate for the material selection for the new science and nanotechnology building is plastic.  One of the ways the building can be constructed is out of Polli-bricks which are made from 100% post consumer product.  They are practical because the polli bricks are manufactured on site and are extremely strong without any chemical adhesives, they are combined with performance enhancing films that enhance the strength, protect against UV, water and fire.  They are economical because they cost about a quarter of the price of conventional curtain walls and can be integrated with solar powered LED lighting to reduce energy costs.  They are sustainable because they are made of 100% recycled materials, and lastly they are very innovative.  The honey comb structures related to the program of the building they resemble molecular structures that can be colored maroon and gold to relate to the school as a whole.

Final Material Selection (rendering by Takeru Nakata)


EcoARKEcoARK made from 1.5 million plastic bottles


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