Physical Sciences Building University of Massachusetts Amherst

The Physical Sciences Building (PSB) is a new research laboratory for the University of Massachusetts – Amherst.  The 95,000 GSF facility houses 20 faculty-led research groups with a total of 130 bench positions. PSB is a pivotal part of the school’s Comprehensive Science and Engineering Master Plan. It supports scientific discovery in organic chemistry, materials science, and condensed matter physics. It contains chemistry and physics research labs, extensive core support labs, offices and student work areas, and collaboration space. The project also includes the recreation of the West Experiment Station (WES), a 19th century research laboratory and one of the University’s oldest buildings. The project dismantled the WES, salvaged its exterior red brick and brown stone, and re-created the building’s 1890s appearance atop a new fireproof steel skeleton. (To read more about the West Experiment Station, click here)

The PSB+WES is located at the center of the UMass Amherst campus. The project creates a new campus lawn, plaza, and pedestrian paths.  Most notably, the project establishes a new major pedestrian path, “Ellis Way”, and rebuilds the WES in alignment with Goessman Lab. The building fits between three existing buildings, interconnecting them on three different levels, with both tunnels and a bridge. PSB+WES replaces an existing parking lot and loading area, reducing their size, improving their function, and increasing access for persons with disabilities. The project also adds a new bus stop (served by 7 different bus lines) and bicycle racks / changing rooms to encourage cycling. 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.

PSB is tracking LEED Gold, anticipating 70 points. The design favors circulation via open and “active” stairs, access to natural light and views, and strong energy efficiency. The PSB+WES is an extremely energy efficient research lab.  Predicted site energy is 22,100 mBtu/yr, for a pEUI of 239 kBtu/sf/yr, or 30% less than the code / LEED baseline.  In AIA 2030 challenge terms, this is 65% less than the Regional Average EUI of 697 kBtu/sf/yr for similar chemistry buildings in Climate Zone 5a. The project anticipates 10 LEED points for energy efficiency.

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