Proj Overview

Project Overview

The Millennium Science Complex on the campus of Penn State University in University Park, Penn., consists of two wings of specialized research facilities.

The two 154-foot-long wings cantilever into a dramatic “bridge” connecting the two parts of the L-shaped building.

Precast Solution

The cantilever was formed using steel trusses supporting architectural precast concrete panels. The cantilevered panels, as with the rest of the façade, feature full-depth bricks along with half-bricks in a few areas. The panels are 22 feet long and vary in height from 8 to 12 feet. High Concrete provided the precast concrete components.

The mass of the concrete also helps dampen the structure-borne vibration, which was critical for the building’s specialized laboratories.

The bricks complement the “Penn State brick” used throughout the campus, consisting of a mixture of deep reddish bricks with intermittent “flash” bricks distinguished by a charcoal-burnt hue resulting from a longer firing process.


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Project Team


RV Architects Inc. 


Thornton Tomasetti Engineers Inc. 

General Contractor

The Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., CM 


Pennsylvania State University 

Precaster and Precast Specialty Engineer

High Concrete Group LLC 

Key Project Attributes

  • Fabricating the precast concrete components under controlled conditions in the plant ensured high quality and tight tolerances, minimizing field adjustments and speeding up erection time.
  • Casting components off-site while site work was completed allowed precast concrete pieces to be ready for erection as soon as foundations were ready, speeding up construction.
  • Precast concrete’s aesthetic versatility provided a complementary look that blended with other buildings on campus.
  • Embedded full bricks brick eliminated trades at the site and provided textured masonry look in a panelized system, minimizing long-term maintenance needs.
  • Concrete’s mass helped dampen the structure-borne vibration, which was critical to the high-tech laboratories in the building.
  • Stepping back the building’s levels established a human scale and provided room for green terraces.
  • C-shaped panels with returns around windows provided continuity for brick-clad panels.
  • Panels were hung on each façade of cantilevered trusses at the same time to deflect together simultaneously.
  • Precast concrete helped building achieve LEED certification.

Project/Precast Scope

  • 292,100-square-foot scientific facility with clean rooms and other laboratory research spaces.
  • Two 154-foot-long wings join at point.
  • 345 architectural spandrel panels embedded with full brick.
  • Brick shades consisted of deep red plus “flash” bricks with charcoal-burnt hue, used in reveal pattern spaced every 2 feet up the building’s height.
  • Brick-faced panels consist of 6 inches of concrete backed with 4 inches of rigid insulation and a vapor barrier.