College moves forward with plans for new BEP building

Papazian Hall is one of several buildings that will be demolished by the construction of the planned BEP building.

In its largest grounds project to date, the college has slated its new $120 million biology, engineering, and psychology (BEP) building to be constructed in the spring of 2017, with an expected completion date of August 2020. Serving as an extension to the Science Center, the building will replace older facilities like Martin Biology Lab, which will be re-purposed for other academic needs. Papazian and Hicks Halls will also be demolished as a part of the project.

Stuart Hain, Vice President for Facilities and Capital Projects, explained that the project is part of the college’s long-term sustainability goals.

Hain said The College’s Environmental Sustainability Framework is being applied to the project with some elements of the framework equivalent to the Platinum level in the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) program. LEED is a certification program of buildings that meet various environmental sustainability construction standards. There are different levels of certification based on a pre-requisite point system.

The LEED Platinum Standard is the highest level of construction sustainability in the program.Other elements of the project, however, will exceed the LEED Platinum Standard.

Post-construction, Hain noted, the building will continue to meet the college’s environmental sustainability goals, since the LEED guidelines only pertain to construction itself.

“The design of the project will include energy modeling to help identify the most energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable means of operation,” he said. This includes a planned geothermal well-field to provide renewable energy to the building.

The project has become a necessity to departments whose current facilities meet neither current nor future needs like expanded space and updated facilities.

Nick Kaplinsky, associate professor of biology, explained that the Martin Biology Lab lacks many of the features of other modern research facilities. The department has even expanded into closets, converting them into growth chambers. He noted that the current needs of the department will only increase in the coming years.

“We will continue to cram things into every nook and cranny in Martin and we will share existing spaces using creative scheduling. Things will continue to be very tight until we move into the new building, a day we look forward to,” Kaplinsky said.

Likewise, Papazian Hall has made accomplishing the psychology department’s goals more difficult. In its most recent departmental review, extreme concerns were raised regarding the limitations of the hall’s capacity. Professor Frank Durgin, the psychology department’s representative for planning the BEP building, shared his concerns about Papazian’s reliability.

“Papazian has long been a challenging building for a number of reasons,” he said. “Although Facilities and the administration have sought to ameliorate some of the more pressing problems, they can only do so much; the current building severely limits our ability to teach and serve students effectively. This is a very urgent need for our department.

The school plans to construct a new building, the Whittier Place Academic Building, which will be constructed behind the Lang Center to temporarily house the psychology and engineering departments between the demolition of Papazian and Hicks and the construction of the BEP building.

“This building will provide more modern facilities to us than Papazian. Although the amount of space in the swing space [Whittier Place] is quite insufficient for the long-term needs of the department, we are able to accommodate this “double move” in order to achieve a better long-term result for the College,” Durgin said.

All of the college’s goals will not be accomplished without significant cost, however. The entire project has an expected total budget of $120 million that will be financed through both philanthropy and loans. In addition, the Whittier Academic Building will have an expected cost of $10 million.

Various alumni have already donated significant sums of money. Eugene Lang ’38, frequent donor to the college, has donated $50 million toward the project. His donation is the largest in the college’s history. During the fall of 2016, the college will officially launch its fundraising campaign, though the goals of that campaign have yet to be determined.

A few major aspects of the BEP project have not been totally determined yet.There is no formal name for it yet, though Hain says it is likely one will emerge in the coming years. The extremely noisy parts of construction, like the demolition of Papazian and Hicks, have been scheduled for the summer months, though a formal construction schedule has not yet been finalized.

Ganesh Setty

Ganesh studies economics & art history, and hopes to be a financial journalist one day. He enjoys reading non-fiction, running, tennis, and collecting gray shirts. Seriously. He has a lot.

1 Comment

  1. What a shame to lose a part of the historic campus. While the need for a new building and updated facilitates is apparent, the original plan that the architect drafted up included preserving Papazian and Hicks, noting their importance to the historical fabric of the campus and the sense of place they generate. The board should reconsider, if this plan goes forth it would be an unfortunate loss to the community.

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