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Edificio de Investigación y Laboratorios de Ingeniería - Pontificia Universidad Javeriana

Juan Pablo Ortiz Arquitectos + TALLER Architects

Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia

February 2023


Juan Pablo Ortiz Suarez (Project Director), Pablo Forero (Project Manager)


Nicolás Parra (Structural Engineer)


Javier Forero Torres - Pontificia Universidad Javeriana


Alejandro Arango


The new Engineering Laboratories is an integration of old and new, with the old Engineering building adjoined to a new tower designed to offer students an immersive learning experience. The 14,089 m2 steel addition, built over 15 levels and 3 basements, rises above the campus at 74 meters tall. The building program includes classrooms, laboratories with state-of-the-art equipment, workshops, meeting rooms as well as socialization and public workspaces. Students and faculty also share space with partners in other public and private sectors. Most of the laboratories are transparent and help foster engagement and interaction between different research fields and disciplines.

A significant feature of the complex is The Atrium, a communal space that bridges the old and new structures while connecting at different levels with the campus' pedestrian network. This vestibular space, which frees up 50% of the groundfloor, offers access and meeting areas for the faculty and transforms the inner brick façade into vertical gardens that provide acoustic absorption, thermal regulation, and visual appeal.

Structurally designed as a steel frame tube with flexibility and functionality, the design was inspired by the use of this common construction material. During the excavation process, the 1,880 tons of 25.4-millimeter-thick structural steel sheets for the project were prefabricated in a controlled environment off-site. A total of 81 hollow-section columns, joined with continuous weld seams, created the structural steel tube frame. Each is painted in brass color tones to highlight both the metallic character of its material and blend in with Bogotá's surrounding geography.


Located at 2,600 meters above sea level, in the foothills of the Andean mountain range, this building is a new addition to the Javeriana University Campus, one of Colombia's oldest universities and a premier institution for research and engineering programs.

For the university, it was essential to retrofit the existing 7,294 m2 brick building to reduce embodied carbon, conserve resources and energy, and extend the lifespan of the original structure. The retrofitting of the late 1980s building was prioritized for its logistical and ecological benefits over its cultural or heritage features. This integration also helped bring the building up to modern standards and enhance its energy efficiency while creating faculty office spaces that encourage collaboration and community building.

The site posed significant challenges; it was narrow and situated within complex topography, with pedestrian connections at different levels. Additionally, it had limited road access, prompting construction to favor prefabrication and on-site assembly over extensive formwork and material logistics.

The engineering faculty, lacking a defined presence within the campus, sought to establish its identity while pursuing an ambitious and complex infrastructure growth plan, aiming to host 94 different laboratories for research and learning, each with its own technical requirements and intricacies. This plan also included 15 exclusive spaces for teaching, and 700 m2 of informal learning spaces for students.


Capitalizing on its altitude of 2,600 meters above sea level, the building leverages thermal exchange between the interior and exterior. Given Bogotá's generally cool and overcast climate, heavy insulation is unnecessary, ensuring a consistently cool environment throughout the year.

The building integrates several sustainable strategies to reduce operational energy consumption. Through its orientation and design, it maximizes natural daylight for illumination, especially in laboratory spaces. Additionally, high-performance glazing is employed to optimize natural light while minimizing heat gain. The building itself serves as a teaching tool, featuring glass interior walls that reveal its complex inner workings. Solar panels are utilized for renewable energy generation and provide students with opportunities for further research.

At the building's center, the mechanical floor houses the main ventilation system, technical rooms, and installations, doubling as an "installations lab" to support teaching activities. A unique double enclosure system with micro-perforated paneling modules, designed exclusively for this building, facilitates air circulation. This system injects filtered natural air that meets the technical requirements for each laboratory. By locating the central air distribution system on the mechanical floor, the roof is freed from technical equipment, providing students and staff with an outdoor patio boasting expansive city views.

This design not only addresses technical challenges but also represents a significant step towards shaping the future of the faculty and the country. Since its official opening, it has inspired research and collaborations in engineering, both locally and regionally.

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