Large Scale Testing Facility

Location: San Antonio, TX
Client: University of Texas at San Antonio
Architect: Alamo Architects
Associate Architect: TreanorHL
Completion Date: April 2019
General Contractor: Turner Construction
Project Size: 14,898
Structural Engineer: IES
MEP Engineer: Shah Smith
Civil Engineer: Pape Dawson
Landscape Architect: Coleman & Associates
Building Code/Life Safety: Jensen Hughes
Information Technology: COMBS Consulting

The UTSA Large-Scale Structural Testing Facility (LSTF) allows for testing of structural systems and components. and is among several in the United States that can provide research on construction materials and methods.

This building has a 40×80 foot reaction floor that provides researchers the ability to test real-size structural systems and components. The reaction floor thickness ranges from three feet to five feet thick, and provides the capability to apply test loads up to four million pounds of force, making portions of the the floor the strongest in the nation. Underneath the reaction floor is a basement structure for researchers to secure test specimens and monitor experiments.

The project includes utility upgrades and improvements to existing vehicular and pedestrian pathways in the area. The design allows for future expansion of the high-bay testing facility and provides a structural base for a future thirty-foot tall unidirectional reaction wall. The facility is complemented with support areas for fabrication and instrumentation of specimens, offices for students, faculty, and staff, and a conference room, where visitors can observe tests as they are performed in the lab.

Because the nature of the sensitive testing inside, direct natural light cannot be allowed to reach the floor of the high-bay space. Limited, shaded clerestory windows introduce natural light high in the space without allowing direct sunlight to reach the tests below. Situated at the overhead crane level, they also allow a peek into the building at night to communicate the nature of the building to the public.