Gavin Engineering Research Laboratory Structural Analysis

Gavin Engineering Research Laboratory (G.E.R.L.) Project Overview:

The Textile Building was originally constructed in 1930 and was renamed as the Gavin Engineering Research Laboratory (G.E.R.L.) in 2016. This project comprehensively renovated the existing building to provide the necessary space to relocate and consolidate research labs for the Polymer Composites Center, Additive Manufacturing, Aerospace Engineering Wind Tunnels, Nuclear Power Generation Simulation, Pulp and Paper Pilot Machine, and general research assets from the Engineering Shops and L-Building.

G.E.R.L. Building Structure:

Prior to the renovation, the building’s existing structure consisted of the following:

  • Walls: Multi-Wythe Unreinforced Masonry Brick Walls 20″ Thick
  • Columns: 10″ Diameter Steel Pipes
  • Beams: 18″ Deep Steel ‘I’ Beams
  • Decking: 4″ Wood Plank Deck Spanning 10′-0″

Structural Challenges:

Stevens & Wilkinson - Auburn University - Gavin Engineering Research Laboratory

  • As stated above, the original building was constructed in 1929 using ‘Carnegie Steel Beams, C.B. Beams.’
    • The firm’s Structural Engineers we able to use the original load tables and material properties to perform an analysis of the entire structure using RAM Elements and custom member properties
  • Existing Building Conditions:
    • The building spans across an old culvert that has caused substantial settling issues in the building. The entire basement slab had to be remediated.  The first-floor slab was supported entirely on helical piers and grade beams.  As a team, we were able to keep the unforeseen poor soil conditions structural fix within project cost and time restraints, design during construction so as not to delay the opening.
  • Mechanical Units in Attic.
    • Space was at a premium in the attic. Working in tandem, the firm’s Structural and Mechanical Engineers worked closely to make the new units fit within the existing space.  There was less than 2″ of clearance from steel beams to the mechanical units nicknamed ‘Gigantor’ and ‘Maximus.’  The main southern entrance bay was removed, and a 20′ section was incorporated so the units could be easily slid into position.
  • Fire Hazard
    • No welding was allowed in the building based on the amount of wood decking. All steel connections had to be bolted.

Stevens & Wilkinson - Auburn University - Gavin Engineering Research Laboratory
Mechanical and Structural Engineering Coordination Model

Gavin’s New Structural Scope included the following:

  • New multi-story monumental stair in center of the building;
  • New elevator;
  • New dormer openings in attic framing;
  • New gable opening in the center bay of the building;
  • Analyze the existing floor for new additive manufacturing laboratory equipment in excess of 200 pounds per square foot in order to reinforce the existing building.

Samples of the Building’s Original 1929 Drawings: 

Stevens & Wilkinson - Auburn University - Gavin Engineering Research Laboratory Stevens & Wilkinson - Auburn University - Gavin Engineering Research Laboratory






Aaron Noyes - Stevens & Wilkinson - Atlanta, GAAbout Aaron Noyes, P.E., Senior Associate and Senior Structural Engineer: Aaron is an experienced Structural Engineer, with more than 22 years’ experience with projects ranging from residential to commercial and industrial. He works closely with project teams in developing structurally sound designs to meet the project’s goals and design intent. Aaron utilizes the latest structural engineering design tools including BIM-Revit; Bentley Structural, as well as Ramsteel, Adapt, and RISA 3D.