Physicists, Chemists Beginning Move to New Physical Sciences Building

Video shows reincarnation of West Experiment Station
PSB exterior from North Pleasant Street
PSB exterior from North Pleasant Street
PSB exterior including WES facade
PSB exterior including WES facade


After three years of construction, the new $101 million Physical Sciences Building (PSB) is beginning to fill with physicists, chemists and their staffs, equipment and experiments.

The 95,000-square-foot state-of-the-art building, which incorporates the reconstructed West Experiment Station (WES), provides offices, specialized laboratories and approximately 130 lab benches in a layout that can be reconfigured many times during the life of the building. Among other fields, PSB supports scientific discovery in material science, condensed matter and nuclear physics and organic chemistry.

There are no classrooms in the building, so its opening is not timed to an academic schedule. Rather, the approximately 20 physicists and chemists, as well as technicians, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, are moving into the building over the summer as their individual and research schedules allow.

The main building has three levels, with the basement accommodating physics laboratories with high bay capacity. Some of these labs have specialized features, such as foundations that are isolated from vibration or pits for cryogenic materials. The top two levels hold the lab benches, chemistry offices, lab support and collaborative spaces. Physics department offices are in the WES portion of the structure.

A unique “energy awareness system” is part of the strategy to offset laboratory ventilation for 92 chemical fume hoods.

The main part of the building, which reaches North Pleasant street just south of the Lederle Graduate Research Center, owes its modern appearance to an exterior of gray Roman brick and vertical curtainwall, which contrasts with the southwest end of the building which presents the façade of the former West Experiment Station, from which it is built.

WES, which opened in 1887 as the first agricultural experiment station at a land grant college, had become structurally unsound by 2015, so it was deconstructed, moved 20 feet south and 65 west and its brick-and-stone façade reassembled around a new steel skeleton. It is connected to the main part of the building at basement and street level.

PSB is also connected to Goessmann Laboratory by a second-floor walkway and to Goessmann and the Graduate Research Center by tunnels.

The university is targeting LEED Gold environmental performance certification for the building.

A formal opening of the building is expected in late fall.