At first glance, a lobby renovation within an existing building—even a two-storied lobby—might be considered standard work for a construction manager such as Lewis Contractors. However, when that renovation is for the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) located on the Homewood campus of Johns Hopkins University, the project takes on a whole new meaning.
Several aspects of the project made this work especially challenging—not the least of which is that the Space Telescope Science Institute is the science operations center for both the Hubble Space Telescope and the future James Webb Space Telescope. The Muller Library building where STScI is located remained open and fully functional throughout the renovation—a challenge given that the building is accessed from both the front and back of the structure. Furthermore, not only was the interior updated, but the outside terrace adjacent to the main entry was updated as well. The lobby footprint is small, traversed by many, and there is little to no room for workers to stockpile materials or demolition debris.
Work on the STScI headquarters included removal of all of the existing finishes, modifications to the HVAC systems, and installation of a new security station replete with desks for security personnel, turnstiles and security panels. Also included was the fabrication and installation of the glass enclosure, the glass and metal accented handrails at the second floor, new tile and carpet tile flooring, painting and other high-end finishes. However, the most striking feature of the project is the linear wood grid ceiling and accent wall into which is integrated a strikingly complex lighting system custom fabricated for this technically sophisticated client.
This project is unique in that it is a rare “public opportunity” for Lewis to showcase its vast aerospace and defense portfolio. It is, in fact, the first of three of Lewis’ ongoing space exploration-related construction projects, all for locally-based, nationally-known research institutions. “My father instilled in my brother and me a special appreciation—really a wonderment—of the sky: astronomy, meteorology, aviation and aerospace,” said Tyler Tate, P.E., President of Lewis Contractors, “the opportunity to in some way contribute to space exploration—even in the role of humble builder—is a particular privilege, and a special joy.”
In the final analysis, the mission was successfully accomplished and the new lobby launched on time—further solidifying the long-term relationship between Lewis Contractors and Johns Hopkins University. Mission critical? It’s what Lewis does!