Major Campus Construction Projects on Schedule

Physical Sciences Building and West Experiment Station
Physical Sciences Building and West Experiment Station

The spring semester finds several highly visible constructions projects on schedule – and one obsolete building demolished.

Physical Sciences Building

The new Physical Sciences Building (PSB) and its partner, the relocated and renovated West Experiment Station (WES), are entering the final phase of their three-year construction process. With mechanical systems operating and testing in progress, the buildings are scheduled for occupancy in April.

The PSB, which is on North Pleasant Street next to the Lederle Graduate Research Center, will hold physics and chemistry labs and offices for 20 faculty (9 chemists and 11 physicists) and approximately 130 bench positions, as well as conference and support space.

With 82,500 gross square feet on three levels, PSB is designed to be reconfigured many times during its life to serve the needs of physics, computational and synthetic chemistry research laboratories. Among its many specialized features are basement laboratories that are highly insulated against seismic vibration.

As part of the project, the old West Experiment Station was dismantled and reconstructed about 20 feet to the south and 65 feet to the west and placed on a new deeper foundation. Connected to PSB, WES has increased its usable space by 50 percent. The 12,300-square-foot structure will house offices for the physics faculty and graduate students, whose labs will be in the PSB.

Isenberg School of Management Addition

Down the road and next to the Fine Arts Center, the 70,000-square-foot Isenberg School of Management Business Innovation Hub is on schedule for occupancy in the spring 2019 semester. Most construction work will be completed in November, with move-in scheduled over winter break.

The addition will wrap around the north and northeast ends of the ISOM and be organized on either side of a multi-story atrium to be used for large, all-university gatherings and special functions such as business symposia.

The addition will accommodate faculty growth, career-center recruiting, team-based learning and advising. The project expands the current facility to include colloquium space, a simulated trading floor and includes limited renovation of existing spaces.

North Chiller

Rising 65 feet to the top of its cooling towers, this new building on the west side of E-Lab II is providing chilled water service to the engineering quadrant of campus and beyond.

In addition to air conditioning, the plant fulfills critical chilled water needs for PSB and the technically focused north end of campus, whether to cool a laser, temper a chemical reaction or maintain strict environmental conditions.

The chiller also serves as a “visual learning” tool, with ground-level glazing that provides a view of the workings inside.

Currently operating, the facility is undergoing final inspections.

Horse Barn

The former campus horse barn, built in 1894 on Grinnell Way, is rising anew just north of the main campus and is nearing completion as part of the Stockbridge School of Agriculture’s Agricultural Learning Center.

To retain the exterior appearance from 1894, cupolas were refurbished and windows and doors were replicated to original measurements. The new roof is metal, as was the original.

Schedule for completion this semester, the new barn includes trusses from the original post-and-beam structure, although age, decades of pest residue and many coats of lead paint meant much of the old structure could not be reused.

A true barn with limited utilities, it will have a heated, handicapped-accessible bathroom.

Students in the Student Farming Enterprise program will use the barn to process the approximately 75,000 pounds of food produced by the farm each year.

Several original features, such as a hay trolley system and an oat grinding machine, have been salvaged and turned over to Preserve UMass, a private advocacy group.

The old barn had last been used more than a decade ago by the UMass Amherst Police Department for its mounted patrol.

Hills House demolition

Hills House, the recently emptied four-story administrative building at Thatcher Road and North Pleasant Street, has been razed and the site is being readied for its next use.

Built in 1960 as a dormitory, the building was most recently used as office space for the Center for Counseling and Psychological Health, landscape architecture and regional planning and the College of Education.

Hills is being replaced by a parking area that will share the space with student-use features, including recreational and other uses that are to be determined.