Discuss Detroit Archives - Beginning January 2006 "High-Tech" Office/R&D buildings Previous Next
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Jsmyers
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Username: Jsmyers

Post Number: 1703
Registered: 12-2003
Posted From: 209.131.7.68
Posted on Tuesday, May 16, 2006 - 2:19 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Remember this article:

http://www.crainsdetroit.com/a pps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/2006 0417/SUB/60414038/1033

?

Here is a look at one of those buildings:

http://maps.google.com/maps?q= 28700+Cabot+Dr.,+Novi,+MI&ll=4 2.50387,-83.443265&spn=0.01553 5,0.045877&t=h&om=1

(The aerial is about 4 years old, there are a number of additional buildings now.)

The U-shaped buildings are a combination of office and high-tech light industrial space. There is high-bay space and loading docks, but also the asthetics and amenities of office buildings. They are one-story (other buildings in the area are taller). There are similar buildings all over the M-5/696/275 area and there are also similar ones in Auburn Hills (thought not necessarily in U-shapes).

The uses of these buildings vary greatly, but are often R&D type tech firms that need to be close to a lab or test facilities. In many ways, this is tech town's competition.

To all of the architects out there:

I've wondered if a similar building could be stacked into a multi-story building. Each floor could be 24' floor to floor but they could be lofted into 2 sub floors for office space as need be. A high-bay service elevator would be needed.

I wonder if this sort of building could be used so that these high-tech industries can be located near urban amenities (especially transit) to make them more attractive to the "knowledge workers" that would use it.

What would be the difficulties from an architectural standpoint? Building codes? From a marketing standpoint? Could a former auto factory be retrofitted for this use?

Do similar mid/high-rise buildings exist elsewhere in the world? I would imagine that Western Europe or Japan might have it if it exists.
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Jsmyers
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Username: Jsmyers

Post Number: 1704
Registered: 12-2003
Posted From: 209.131.7.68
Posted on Wednesday, May 17, 2006 - 1:16 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Nobody have any comments at all?

Not even a negative, "it'll never work here because I said so."?
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Ndavies
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Username: Ndavies

Post Number: 1820
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 129.9.163.105
Posted on Wednesday, May 17, 2006 - 1:41 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I don't think anyone understands what you're asking.

Those buildings were built there because someone wanted to have that type of office there. You can build just about anything if there is a market for it. Just building space for the sake of building it will not bring companies there.

Most R&D facilities are purpose built for the company that will occupy them.
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Llyn
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Username: Llyn

Post Number: 1532
Registered: 06-2004
Posted From: 68.61.197.206
Posted on Wednesday, May 17, 2006 - 2:18 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I'm not an architect, but I'll take a shot at an answer.

Depends.

If you're talking about computers, servers, that kind of technology - I don't see why not. Look at Compuware.

If we're talking about labs and light industrial there would be complications.

One problem would be loading docks for light industrial... not as practical in a dense urban setting for transport and also difficult to provide enough of them in a taller building - and not to neglect the transport problem and time of moving material (especially larger sized deliveries) from the gound level to an upper level of the building. As an alternative, ramps to upper elevations would no doubt be prohibitively expensive.

Labs are another problem. I'm assuming that it depends somewhat on the type of lab, but some labs have special requirements, and more particularly auto labs are sometimes classified hazardous environments. Putting one of those in a major multistory building is not a good idea from a life-safety and fire protection standpoint. You're not going to put a facility like that on top of or underneath a few stories of occupied space.

That's my take. Anyone?

(Message edited by llyn on May 17, 2006)
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Rsa
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Username: Rsa

Post Number: 856
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 69.219.102.130
Posted on Wednesday, May 17, 2006 - 2:36 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

absolutely jsmyers. most of the time that's how it was done, just not combining several smaller companies.

really, the only problem is money. developers build those types shown because they're cheap cheap cheap. no vertical circulation, no stacked fire surpression, heavy duty freight elevators, codes are less stringent, etc.

some quick examples: downtown hudson's had two freight elevators that could lift entire trailers from trucks. the ren-cen's loading docks are located in the basement. fisher body plant had car bodies traversing 6 floors (including chemical baths). in the medical center, many labs are located on higher floors in midrises. anything is possible, you just have to have the demand and the client willing to spend the money.

this is a very good question because it's this type of development that will ultimately destroy many aspects of our area. the area shown above used to be woodlands, wetlands, and fields. now, there is none of that left. trees plowed under, drainage rerouted into sewers (vs. being absorbed into the ground), soil covered with asphalt parking, etc. all covered with one story building surrounded by parking. this is stupid, stupid development all meant to make a fast dollar.

-rsa [RockStArchitect]
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Danindc
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Username: Danindc

Post Number: 1476
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 67.100.158.10
Posted on Wednesday, May 17, 2006 - 2:42 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

A lot of it depends on what kind of R&D you're doing. If there are hazardous or volatile chemicals involved, you're going to need a robust mechanical system in the building to generate adequate ventilation and airflow. You likely wouldn't be able to exhaust into a dense urban area. Then again, a university chemistry building wouldn't be too much different, would it?

Ramps are not an issue. This is why God invented elevators. Loading docks are not an issue, either. Many existing high-rise buildings do fine with the loading docks they have.

Another concern would have to be vibrations. I have to think that most R&D facilities are low-rise because a slab-on-grade vibrates a whole lot less under foot traffic than an elevated framed slab. Now, if you construct a building out of concrete, that will help dampen things a bit. A steel frame will allow for greater vibrations, but larger framing members could dampen vibrations as well. My office is designing a new multi-story lab building for UVa, so it can be done.

The major limiting aspects are going to be the HVAC systems of the building and the proclivity for vibrations. A more minor (but still important) one is the prevalent notion that R&D facilities need to be in a low-rise "campus" atmosphere (which in my mind is mostly superficial).
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Rustic
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Username: Rustic

Post Number: 2465
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 130.132.177.245
Posted on Wednesday, May 17, 2006 - 2:54 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Multi-story R&D buildings do exist. Many gvt labs and university research buildings are multi story labs. Whether they are "modular" or not I have no idea. Pharmas also typically have multistory facilities. Re actual high rises ... that really is less practical since (and I'll defer to the architects and building engineers on this forum who know the real deal) the taller you go in general the more of your available floorspace is lost for structural and engineering applications (this applies to the lower floors of the tall buildings as well) -- remember with generic tech R&D space what you'd want is large open space to fill however your tenants would need (high ceilings and wide doors are a must with the availability of raised floors ideal with plenty of space for dedicated ductwork to vent up directly to dedicated roof exhaust).

IMO if you were considering adaptive reuse of Detroit buildings what would work best would be old factories more then old office skyscrapers and Detroit has plenty of those. I was recently involved with a startup (not in Detroit) that initially was in a building that was an old clock factory from the 1800's. It was cool having these big old wood beams and some of the old overhead power transfer machinery still in place (a la Henry Ford Museum). The company outgrew this facility and moved to a newly constructed building but it was fun while it lasted in the old space.
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Jsmyers
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Username: Jsmyers

Post Number: 1706
Registered: 12-2003
Posted From: 209.131.7.68
Posted on Wednesday, May 17, 2006 - 6:06 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)


quote:

Most R&D facilities are purpose built for the company that will occupy them.



Wrong. These buildings are virtually all speculative. This is probably true for most large R&D facilities but not these small mixed office/lab buildings.

Great discussion everybody. I'm still reading through, I might have more to add.
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Jsmyers
Member
Username: Jsmyers

Post Number: 1708
Registered: 12-2003
Posted From: 209.131.7.68
Posted on Wednesday, May 17, 2006 - 7:01 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Thanks for the input.

My idea is to take the prototype that we see in that aerial and stack it.

24' floor to floors.
Replace the loading Courtyard with an Elevator/service core, including a sizable freight elevator (maybe two).
Office space can be lofted or stacked having 2 sets of 12' floor to floor office as need be.
One of the attractions is the ability to have quality office space with a nice lobby and an attractive, respectible front door, but at the same time, have a working side that can do the heavy stuff.
You have to greet your VC with style but also get ALL of your work done on one location.

Vibrations are a huge challenge.
Fire and Hazmat protection are as well.
Those buildings are cheap to build.

Getting the space to be column free would also be highly desirable. I wonder how difficult it would be to have a structural wall and a structural core and beam the floor across the gap. (ALA the WTC) Would it be reasonably possible to do this and have a stiff floor that could carry a heavy load?

So what might go in a 8 story version of one of these? (That would be about 200,000 sf of 24' tall space.) (This would also be roughly as tall as most 16 story buildings.)

I would think that for vibration, machining would be out. Work with quantities of hazardous or flamable materials probably would be too. Anything that makes loud noise won't be easy since you have neighbors to the top and bottom. Computer technology fits just fine, but software development and support have no need for tall space or loading docks, so it is a waste.

Most BioTech would work fine (and there are a lot of hospitals and a med school centrally located in Detroit). Small scale technology R&D for things like solar cells, fuel cells, nanotech, and electronics seem to fit. Rapid prototyping? Check. Anything incorporating physical design (even in the artistic sense, such as lighting design). Most product testing/benchmarking would work. Artistic production, including video production and editing or special effects could likely use the vertical space. What about experiental food production? A kitchen needs fume hoods, maybe tanks and hoppers, but isn't likely to be hazardous.

Recreation and medical/sports rehab is something that doesn't generally want to be in an older building, but would need tall floors.

Any other ideas.

The one thing that locating in central Detoit (downtown, midtown, or new center) gets you is proximaty to the institutions that you will share resources with and often that resource is a part time or temporary work in the form of a university student. Fewer WSU students are going to drive out to M-5 and 696 to put in 2 hours at the biotech lab than they are going to be able to on their bike ride home from class.

It seems to me that much of this is what Tech Town is trying to do. Hopefully the demand will grow and existing space will come at a premium. Growing up may be more feasible than people think off of the top of their heads.

I'd like to develope this building in a central location that would be attractive from a "creative class" standpoint, be accessible from the existing freeway and future transit network, and be connected to the best IT/Telcom available. I think with the right marketing, it could find a niche that previously went unsatisfied.

http://www.techtownwsu.org/

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