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College of Health and Human Development Biomechanics Lab Renovation

Specialized treadmill strengthens university’s role as a center for research that improves recoveries from serious injuries.
  • Researcher at a computer observes a subject running on a specialized treadmill that has a wraparound screen - Gannett Fleming.

    The state-of-the-art facility enhances advanced research in adaptive human movement.

  • Treadmill user watches imagery projected on a screen that imitates a path through woodlands - Gannett Fleming.

    Structural modifications enable vibration-free operation with a focus on functional safety.

Client
The Pennsylvania State University

Location
University Park, Pennsylvania

Our Role
Architectural, Mechanical, Electrical, Structural, and Interior Design.

Data
Size
1,725 sq. feet
Completed
2018
Type
Renovation
Outcomes
  • Strengthened support for innovative study of adaptive human movement
  • Enhanced university’s reputation as a center of kinesiology research
  • Improved outcomes for people recovering from injuries that affect mobility.

Renovations to a leading-edge biomechanics laboratory at The Pennsylvania State University enable researchers in the department of kinesiology to expand their study of adaptive human movement. The lab features a specialized treadmill integrated with a 240-degree wraparound screen, virtual display projectors, and motion-capture cameras that create an immersive environment for the study of repetitive movements under a variety of conditions. Research at the facility improves outcomes for people recovering from brain, spinal cord, and orthopedic injuries.

Gannett Fleming provided engineering design to safely install the treadmill and its components in a renovated space inside historic Rec Hall. The work included modifying the lab’s existing slab and designing a recessed slab support system for the treadmill, which weighs approximately 2,000 pounds. New ceiling connections accommodate the metal rigging that supports virtual display and motion capture equipment. The team developed its design with a focus on functional safety to protect users against injury when the treadmill is operating.

What We Did

To accommodate the treadmill, the team excavated a 10-inch-deep rectangular pit measuring 7 feet, 10 inches by 3 feet, 10 inches in the footprint of the existing slab. A new recessed slab support system enables vibration-free treadmill operation, required for proper equipment functionality and user safety. Because the treadmill equipment generates approximately 9 kilowatts (kW) of heat during use, a secondary cooling system was designed to maintain a comfortable temperature in the lab and prevent heat-related system malfunctions.

The team’s electrical design ensured a stable power supply for the treadmill system with surges or dips limited to no more than 10 percent, per manufacturer requirements. Architectural design and equipment layout maintained lab compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.

Key Features

  • Recessed slab support system enables vibration-free treadmill operation
  • Secondary cooling system addresses 9-kW heat gain to maintain lab comfort and proper equipment functionality
  • Stable power supply provides electricity without significant surges or dips
  • Renovated lab and equipment layout maintain ADA compliance.

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