Physical Sciences Building BCT 313 Final project


Project Participants


The Physical Sciences Building is designed by Wilson Architects, an architectural firm based in Boston, MA. Founded in 1995, Wilson Architects specializes in educational facilities including laboratories, classrooms, and learning labs. Wilson Architects’ company philosophy reads:

“We embrace three components in the successful design of sustainable buildings and spaces that foster human interactions and collaborations: campus, community, and consensus.”

The Life Science Laboratories at UMass, LEED Gold certified and completed in 2013, were also designed by Wilson Architects. More information about Wilson Architects can be found at


The contractor for the Physical Sciences Building is Whiting-Turner. Whiting-Turner was founded in 1909 by M.I.T. classmates G.W.C. Whiting and LeBaron Turner and is ranked the 9th largest construction contractor based in the United States. Whiting-Turner worked with Wilson Architects on the Life Science Laboratories and also recently completed the John Francis Kennedy Champions Center.

More information about Whiting-Turner can be found at

Project Consultants


Schedule Issued 7/17/2015

Construction Fencing & Early Package Activities Start: July 2015

Site-work and Bulk Excavation Activities Start: January 2016

Concrete Foundation Activities Start: ~March 2016

Structural Steel Erection Activities Start: ~June 2016

Structural Steel Substantially Complete: ~September 2016

PSB Exterior Envelope Substantially Complete: ~December 2016

WES Exterior Envelope Substantially Complete: ~February 2017

Site Improvements & Landscape Activities Start: ~February 2017

Construction Activities Substantially Complete: ~January 2018

Final Completion & Occupancy: ~April 2018

Week: November 6th – 12th


There was a unique opportunity to visit the construction site this week with the BCT 550 class. We were able to get an inside perspective on the construction and take many pictures, but also learn about aspects of the construction not visible from the outside. Special thanks to Professor Xiao for setting up the site visit.

The interior tour provided a lot of insight into the purpose of the building, as well as some of the unique challenges faced by the designers. There are 93 individual range hoods with vents to the roof. They do not come together at any point before they reach the outside exhaust, keeping dangerous chemicals contained. Also, the conduit for the many liquid and gas chemical sources, as well as electrical, was a serious design challenge. Wilson Architects made use of computer modeling software to design the conduit and exhaust vents, making sure there were not problems with the design before construction began.

Figure 3.1: Conduit for carrying chemicals to different labs throughout the building, designed with CAD software.

The Physical Sciences Building will be home to an advanced microscope. This equipment is very sensitive to electromagnetism, so it is placed in the basement. Electrical equipment is located on the top floor of this building, called the Penthouse, instead of in the basement to keep it far away from the microscope. Stainless steel panels are placed and welded in around where the microscope will be positioned to insulate it.

Figure 3.2: A view of the basement. Note the fireproofing on the steel members and the lack of MEP close to the microscope site.
Figure 3.3: A plumbing section for a bathroom. It was designed in CAD and fabricated offsite. This method allows for minimal slowdowns on the construction site.
Figure 3.4: A view of the construction site from the roof of the building. Coordination by the project managers and schedulers allows many subcontractors working on different systems to be on the same site without running into each other and slowing down the project.
Figure 3.5: The modern structural elements of the reconstructed West Experiment Station
Created By
Matthew LaBonte

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