Atlanta, Ga  


Building Statistics

Building Name:  Emory Psychology Building

Location and Site: Atlanta, Ga

Building Occupant Name:  Emory University

Occupancy type: Education (classrooms and lab space)

Total SF:  119,000

Number of Stories above grade:  5 plus penthouse roof

Primary Project Team:

Owner – Emory University (
Construction Manager – Holder Construction (
Architect – HOK Inc. (
Civil Engineer – Travis Pruitt & Associates (
MEP Engineer – Nottingham Brook and Pennington (
Structural Engineer – KSI Structural Engineers (
Lighting Design - CD+M Lighting Design Group (

Dates of construction: October, 2007 – February, 2009

Building Cost: $35 Million GMP

Project Delivery Method:  CM @ Risk with a GMP

Architectural Features:

This is a 5-story concrete building for Emory University located in Dekalb County, Georgia.  The building will contain the labs, classrooms, and offices of the psychology department.  It will also house a Functional MRI facility for brain research.  Emory is hoping to obtain a LEED certified Silver rating for the building.  There is a mechanical penthouse that covers about half of the roof.  On the east side of the building there is a glazed curtain wall overlooking an outdoor plaza.  The limestone and stucco façade with clay tile roofing is typical of Emory University while the glazed curtain wall adds a modern look to the traditional design.  

National Codes:

2006 IBC and all applicable 2006 edition international codes

Zoning:  Classified as Office – Institutional, Construction type 1B


Emory University is an urban campus but there was nothing built on this site previously; however, some underground utilities and trees will have to be removed.

Building Envelope:

The 1st story and half of the 2nd story is clad in limestone dimensional stone on all but the east façade.  From there to the 5th story the building is covered in Portland cement stucco with continuous window sill bands of limestone.  The first level of the east façade is underground and protected by a 14” thick retaining wall.  The east façade is a glazed curtain wall system with aluminum infill panels.  The mechanical penthouse is covered by a clay tile roof backed by rigid insulation and metal decking on a 6:12 slope.  The rest of the roof is a flat roof on metal deck covered by a modified bituminous membrane and rigid insulation sloped to roof drains and scuppers.

Chris Renshaw

Building Statistics

Thesis Abstract

Technical Assignments

Thesis Research

Thesis Proposal


Final Report




User Note: While great efforts have been taken to provide accurate and complete information on the pages of CPEP, please be aware that the information contained herewith is considered a work‐in‐progress for this thesis project. Modifications and changes related to the original building designs and construction methodologies for this senior thesis project are solely the interpretation of Chris Renshaw. Changes and discrepancies in no way imply that the original design contained errors or was flawed. Differing assumptions, code references, requirements, and methodologies have been incorporated into this thesis project; therefore, investigation results may vary from the original design.


Structural System

The structural system of the Psychology Building is primarily cast-in-place concrete, but there is some structural steel to support part of the roof.  The foundation consists of drilled piers for deep foundations, and grade beams for shallow foundations.  The drilled piers average about 40 ft. deep and range in diameter from 3 ft. to 4 ft.  The grade beams are 4 ft. thick.  The columns, beams, and slabs of the superstructure are all cast-in-place concrete with steel reinforcing.  Slabs are typically 5 in. thick.  Post-tensioning was used for the girders that support the beams for added support.

The structural steel on this building is used only as support for the penthouse roof.  A braced frame is used as well as wide flange beams ranging in size from W12x16 to W18x35.  Channels along the outside perimeter of the roof make up the last part of the structural steel.

Mechanical System

There are 4 penthouse air handling units (AHUs) for this building.  Each unit is a different size ranging from 4,900 cubic feet per minute (CFM) to 55,280 CFM for a total of 104,380 CFM.  There is also an outdoor air energy recovery unit (ERU) that helps to cool/heat the outside air using stale indoor air, depending on the season, to save energy in the AHUs.  Outdoor air is taken in from under the large roof overhang, covered by perforated panels.  The units are fed from 6” chilled water pipes from the campus.  The campus pipes enter on the west side of the building and run up a chase on the west side to the mechanical penthouse. The steam is also fed from the campus.  The steam enters on the south end of the building and runs up a chase in the south stairwell to the mechanical penthouse.  Also on the penthouse are two unit heaters.

Each room in the building contains a variable air volume (VAV) unit to allow for individual room temperature control.  There is a thermostat in every room that controls the flow of air from the return air and the supply air through the VAV to control the temperature.  A large air conditioner, separate from the rest of the building, will serve the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) room.

Electrical System

The Psychology building is fed by a 19.8 kV utility from Emory’s Campus.  There is a service yard located just outside of the NE corner of the building that takes in the 19.8 kV from campus and steps it down to 480/277V before entering the building.  From there the power is distributed to 2 electrical rooms on each floor.  Once the power gets to the electrical rooms, it is either sent to various panel boards on that floor, or stepped down again to 208/120 V and sent out to panel boards on that floor.  The service yard also houses a 300 kW 480/277 V generator to account for any utility power outages. 

Lighting System

The type of lighting for this building varies greatly by the occupancy of the room.  Most of the Psychology Building classrooms use linear suspended pendant fixtures.  In some classrooms, wall mounted incandescent fixtures are used to provide light specifically to marker boards.   The office lights are mostly surface mounted fluorescents.  The widths of the fluorescents vary, but the lengths are all the same and use 48 inch tubes.  Classroom and offices also have occupant sensors in order to save electricity costs in the event that someone forgets to turn a light off.  In the corridors and elevator lobbies, mostly suspended recessed cans are used for down light.  The restrooms use cove lighting. 


Holder Construction Company is an At-Risk Construction Manager for this project.  They are performing all of the concrete work but subcontract all other work; however, they are responsible for the completion of all of the work on time and budget.  They hold Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) contract with the owner, Emory University, at $35,029,000.  The MEP subcontracts with Cleveland Electric and Batchelor & Kimball are also GMPs.  Emory holds a separate contract with the architect, HOK Inc.  HOK holds cost plus fee contracts with the structural, MEP, and lighting designers. 

HOK created a 3-D model while designing this building.  After the design was complete, they gave the model to Holder to help with coordination.  The model helped the Holder team visualize the building before construction as well as coordinate removal and relocation of underground utilities.  Holder also used the model to help plan work and convey their schedule to Emory using a 4-D model.  A 4-D model shows the building being built into a 3-D model in a video format based on time.  Lastly, the model was used to detect clashes between separate building systems to eliminate field clashes. 

In order to place the concrete, Holder plans to have a tower crane on site for approximately ten months.  For the structural steel, a mobile crane will be used to pick the steel in addition to the tower crane in an effort to save time.  Scaffolding will be erected along the facades for the masons. 

Fire Protection

The Psychology Building is fully sprinklered.  Since the occupancy type varies, the sprinkler type varies as well.  Light hazard areas like offices and classrooms are protected with a dry type sprinkler system, while medium hazard areas like the fMRI room and mechanical spaces need a pre-action system.  The structural steel is protected with cementitious spray on fire proofing.

Vertical Transportation

There are 2 elevators and 3 main stairwells in the building.  The elevators are located in the north part of the building and central part of the building.  The stairwells are located on the north, south, and central parts of the building.  There are two access ladders to the roof from the penthouse.  One is located on the north end of the building and the other is near the central part of the building. 


There is a telecommunications duct bank on the south end of the building where the main telecommunication feed is located.  That duct bank connects to the main data room, which is located in the central part of the building, on the ground floor.  That room data and telephone cables to a data room on each floor.  The cables then travel to each individual room on a cable tray.  Typically most offices share a voice and data box, mounted in the wall.  The classrooms vary.  Some have TV cables, some have many data cables, it depends on the type of classroom.  However, all classrooms have a telephone line.  The location of the data boxes also varies.  Some are located in the ceiling, some as floor boxes in the slab, and some in the wall. 

fMRI Room

This building is to contain a functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging research facility for brain research.  Due to the hazardous and complex nature of the equipment, separate provisions are made in the design for some systems supporting this space.  An additional air conditioner will be installed to account for the added heat caused by the equipment, the fire rating of the walls is higher, and an electrical room is placed near the equipment.







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