UMASS Physical Science Building Construction Journal BCT 313 TERM PROJECT

Brian Meaney, Michael Murphy, Gregory Connery


This new facility is located adjacent to the Lederle Graduate Research Center on North Pleasant Rd. in Amherst, Ma. This is a unique project for the campus because the University of Massachusetts is not the owner of the project. The Division of Capitol assessment and management and maintenance from Massachusetts or DCAMM is the owner of the project and the University of Massachusetts operates and the user agency. In this particular instance there is a lot of collaboration going on between DCAMM UMASS Whiting Turner and Wilson architects thus leading to there being regular meetings with all groups involved in order to properly execute the project.

The final plan for the Physical Sciences building is set to have labs, offices and collaboration space for 20 faculty and 130 research positions. The Physical Sciences building is part of UMass comprehensive science and engineering master plan.

The architect of the project is Wilson Architects which is a firm out of Boston led by CEO Chris Martin. Wilson was founded in 1995 and employs around 50 employees with an annual revenue of . Some other projects that Wilson has designed that are also in the academic field are the Engineering and Sciences building at Vanderbilt University in Nashville Tennessee, The Graduate School of Public Health for the University of Pittsburgh in Oakland, Pennsylvania, the University Hall for the University of Massachusetts Boston in Boston, Massachusetts, and the Life Sciences Laboratories building right here at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The Construction Manager of the project is Whiting-Turner which is a large construction management firm with its headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland and has offices in nearly every major market city in the united states. Some of their projects include the football field at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, M&T Bank ,Stadium ( the Baltimore Ravens 70,000 person stadium), as well as buildings for Ft. Benning in Fort Benning, Georgia and the dining hall for the United State Naval Academy along with other buildings in the academic, and arts and entertainment sector.

Whiting- Turner operates all over the United States, especially the up and down the east coast. The company is based out of Baltimore, Maryland is lead by CEO and president, Timothy Regan. At the end of the fiscal year in 2015 Whiting- Turner had done $5.7 billion dollars in sales. This is the ninth largest construction firm in the country and the 66th largest privately owned company. Whiting- Turner has a wide range of expertise that includes commercial offices, education, healthcare, life sciences, technology, and transportation. Turner also completed other projects on the University of Massachusetts campus such as the the state of the art Life Sciences Laboratories which was also designed by Wilson architects as well.

Construction schedule : Construction of the PSB will be done in phases. The first two will run from march 9 2015 to October 31 2015. Phase one was scheduled to be complete on June 30th and the next phase was to start immediately after. The first two phases were set to cover upgrades to the the are and preliminary construction of the utilities. The final phase of from July 1 to October 31st and will and is set to have abatement, selective demolition and dismantling for the relocation and reconstruction of the WES. The final phase of the project starting in November of 2015 and ending in January of 2018 will be the reconstruction of the WES and the construction of PSB.

Building Program: the objectives for this project were to establish state of the art labs for the science departments. Some things that were concerns for the project and were established as goals were to dig a foundation that was deeper than normal and any form of infiltration from groundwater. The reason for the deep foundation was because there are machines for experiments that needed to be in the basement of the building and were taller than the original plan for the depth of the project. Some other objectives were to place the testing labs in the correct places in the buildings because some of them were sensitive to vibration and electromagnetic interference. This means that they architect had to design them away from the road so there was no vibration interference with test when heavy trucks drive b as well as there being electromagnetic interference from cell phones on the road as well as from the power in the building itself. To solve this a titanium casing was placed around some of the equipment in the building in order to minimize interference. It was also very important at the onset of the project the the safe movement and reconstruction of the WES. The historic West Experiment station was very important to keep on the campus and to be a part of the new PSB so by successfully finding out which parts of the building were reusable and which needed to be replaced the goal was to move the WES out of its original foundation, dig a new and pour a more stable foundation and replace it on the top of it all while allowing for the massive PSB to be placed and connected to it.


This week the workers are continuing to seal the outside of the building. They are almost done with the outside work and have already dove into the work inside. Once the building was sealed and was able to support the dead load on the inside, workers began on the inside. However, they are still hard at work with the outside of the building. In the first picture (south side of the building), the equipment being used is scaffolding, two Telescoping Boom Lifts, and a fork lift. Behind the blue boom lift on the left hand side, the fork lift is lifting a dozen pipes onto the second floor of the building. Without the use of these tools the work not be done on schedule and would be delayed. The worker in the right can be seen attaching facade to the top of the windows. As he is attaching the facade he is sealing around the edges to make an air tight barrier; he is using black caulk to perform this task. An update from last week is the top of the building where work has continued to put black vents at the top of the building. From my angle I could not see what was in that area but I am assuming they must have a HVAC system or some type of large machine that needs to be vented. It is evident that since last week they have finished air sealing the windows on the North side of the building. They have left white spacers between the windows that will either be pulled out when they get the final product or they will stay in place and hold a finish molding that will be what is left in place.


Air sealing a building is a critical task during the construction process and is something that should never be overlooked. Air sealing is absolutely necessary because it will first and foremost save money by not leaking hot or cool in or out of the house. It will increase comfortability with no drafts in the house and it will also help prevent moisture penetration which can cause massive problems during the lifetime of a building. According to the US Department of Energy, the areas of a building that has the most air leakage are; walls/ceilings/floors 31%, ducts 15%, fireplace 14%, plumbing penetrations 13%, doors 11%, windows 10%, fans/vents 9%, and electrical outlets 2%. These are just average numbers of a typical home but it is important for homeowners to conduct a home energy assessment in order to know exactly where their weaknesses are.

While constructing the home it is important to close any unwanted holes or gaps throughout the house. On the drawing of an ideal building, you would be able to put down your pencil on the building assembly and you could draw all the way around the building without picking up your pencil. You would be following the air barrier and if you had to pick up your pencil anywhere on the paper, there is a gap or hole that needs to be patched, fixed, or redesigned. Areas during construction that need extra attention are sill plates, bottom plates of exterior walls, windows and doors, wiring, plumbing, HVAC penetrations and exterior penetrations. Basically anywhere on the building that was cut open for a material to be inserted or anywhere that is attached to another material. Some of the best solutions to fix the air leakage is low-expanding foam, weather stripping, weatherproof tape, and caulks.

If a building is already constructed, it is not too late to figure out if it is losing energy through a break in the air seal. As mentioned before, a home owner can get an energy assessment of the building. An energy auditor will come to the house and conduct tests to determine how well the house is sealed. These tests, also known as an energy audit, consist of checks and inspections around the house to determine where it can be more efficient. They do not just check for a proper air barrier, they check many different aspects of the building for ways to become more efficient. The auditor will likely start the inspection outside and do a visual inspection of the exterior walls to check connection and eaves. They will then make their way to the attic to see of air is being leaked through the ceiling. While up there they will check the insulation. They want to make sure the attic is properly insulated with enough insulation and installed correctly. They will also check any electrical wires to make sure they are seals going through the roof. If they are not, they owner is losing money. They will then likely check the furnace and water heater. They want to make sure the furnace is efficient and has been properly taken care of. Filters are usually not replaced and is an easy way to save energy. They check the water heater for efficiency and proper care as well. The last inspection they do is to check any ducts. They want to make sure there is not any leaks they are wasting energy by not bringing the most amount of air to the right area. Once the visual inspections are done, the auditors will conduct a blower door test. They will shut all windows and doors to the outside and connect a special fan to decompress the home. They want to draw all the air out to really see how air sealed the home is. While the home is decompressed, the auditors will be walking around inside with an inferred camera to see the unwanted cold air penetrating the house. Once they finish there inspections and tests, the auditors will give you a comprehensive energy assessment which will highlight areas to improve energy efficiency and upgrades which will help save energy and most importantly money.

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