Stringent vibration requirements must be met for laboratories housing sensitive equipment for nanotechnology research. This paper provides guidance to the designer in the selection of structural systems to limit vibrations to acceptable levels. Comments are also made on site selection, building planning issues, and cost-effective solutions. The concepts proposed are illustrated with examples of the structural systems developed for nanotechnology buildings at the University of Alberta.
Designing buildings to house nanotechnology research presents a multitude of well-recognized challenges to architectural and engineering design teams, from environmental control to spatial arrangements to operational functionality. These technical challenges can be solved with relative ease on projects with large budgets: designers have the option of selecting leading-edge systems without undue regard for their expense. This is reflected in the construction cost of many nanotechnology research facilities that run well into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Smaller universities and other institutions need not be shut out of the nanotechnology research field simply because their construction budgets are tens of millions of dollars or less. The key to success for these less expensive projects lies with making good strategic decisions: identifying priorities for the facility in terms of what it will is--and will not--provide to the researchers. Making these strategic decisions puts bounds on the tactical, technical problems that the design team at large must address, allowing them to focus their efforts on the key areas for success. The process and challenges of this strategic decision-making process are examined, with emphasis placed on the types of decisions that must be made and the factors that must be considered when making them. Case study examples of projects undertaken at the University of Alberta are used to illustrate how strategic-level decision-making sets the stage for cutting-edge success on a modest budget.