This is the University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2, home to three identical, massive hill slopes each contained within a green steel structure. The three slopes are collectively known as the Landscape Evolution Observatory, or LEO, the world’s largest laboratory experiment in the earth sciences.
Designing and building such a laboratory experiment was no ordinary undertaking. Just ask structural engineer Allan Ortega-Gutiérrez, who was instrumental in the structural design and construction phases of LEO.
It’s interesting to work on a project like this because it breaks some of the rules that as a structural engineer I do every day," says Ortega-Gutiérrez, an alumnus of the UA College of Engineering. "LEO is one of those things that becomes a marriage between science and engineering."