Rebuilding the West Experiment Station
On our UMass Amherst Physical Sciences Building construction site, we are currently dismantling the West Experiment Station, the original home of chemistry research on campus. It’s the first phase of a $102 million project to construct a new, state-of-the-art home for advanced Chemistry and Physics research. The experiment station is being take down literally brick by brick, and as much of the original masonry as possible is being preserved, so it can be reconstructed as an outer facade for the new building later on.
Unfortunately, the experiment station was originally built with improperly mixed mortar. The mortar contained too much sand, leaving the building structurally weak. This problem, combined with 100 years of normal wear and tear, left the building structurally unsuitable for any kind of renovation, let alone the move and renovate scenario we had in mind. So it was decided that the best way to save it was to reconstruct it.
We are getting close to ground level now, and we’ve been able to rescue enough of the masonry from the crumbling mortar to recreate the original 1887 building. The pieces are being stored in custom built boxes, on pallets, in a dry storage container on campus, to minimize travel. We expect to begin reconstructing the experiment station in the fall of 2016.
The Physical Sciences Building supports scientific discovery in the fields of materials science, condensed matter and nuclear physics, and organic chemistry. The project provides labs, offices, and collaboration space for 20 faculty and 130 research positions. Two new bridges and a new tunnel connect the PSB to the new West Experiment Station, the Goessmann Chemistry Laboratory, and the Lederle Graduate Research Center (LGRC), enabling sharing of resources and promoting cross-disciplinary collaboration. An extensive “green roof” plaza between the PSB and the LGRC creates a new pedestrian destination at the heart of the 1,000,000+ gsf science district. The whole project will be complete in the spring of 2018.
Thank you to the UMass Amherst Office of News and Media Relations for the thoughtful video.