University of Pennsylvania High Bay BLAST Laboratory

This project consists of design for a new high bay research laboratory. Built for Dr. Mark Devlin, the Reese W. Flower Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Pennsylvania, whose research focuses on experimental cosmology. To accomplish his research, Dr. Devlin designs and builds sophisticated instruments and telescopes which are used to make observations from high-altitude balloons and the high plateaus of Chile. One of these instruments, the Balloon-borne Large Aperture Submillimeter Telescope (BLAST) is a long running NASA high altitude balloon program that Dr. Devlin has led for 18 years. The new 1,800 sf facility provides a unique fabrication and research facility that facilitates Dr. Devlin’s work.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


1,800 sf

Project Principal

Terry Jacobs

Project Manager

Eric H. Bohn

The exterior of the new building is composed of two simple rectangular forms. The high bay is the primary function and its solitary space is enclosed with only the basic structure required for weather protection. This bold form provides a monumental presence that is reinforced with 33-foot-high, four-fold doors. The utilities and support functions for the high bay are contained in a second, smaller volume attached to the back. A 5-ton trolley crane projects through the high-bay doors and provides lifting capability on the interior and exterior. Besides its use for assembly of the telescope, the crane allows calibration of the telescope by moving it out of the building and aiming at objects in the night sky. Located on the edge of Penn park it is sited to maximize open space and preserve the trees and grass of the park setting.