Since its introduction in 2017, the biology, engineering, and psychology (BEP) building has made great strides toward completion and will be finished within the next two summers. The BEP project was introduced due to high enrollment in biology, engineering, and psychology, leading to a deficit in classroom and office space. Using Eugene Lang’s $50 million donation, the project is being built in two phases.
Janet Semler, Director of Facilities and Services-Capital Planning and Project Management, explained the progression and timeline of the project.
According to Semler, Phase One of the building, which is currently under construction, will be completed this summer, while Phase Two will be completed by the summer of 2020.
Phase One includes what is currently under construction: the portion of the building that will contain classrooms, laboratories, offices, and shared common spaces. The building will have five floors in total: a ground floor, which will contain all three disciplines and the commons; a second floor, which will contain psychology and engineering; a third floor, which will contain primarily biology with some psychology departments; a fourth floor, which will contain only biology; and a fifth floor, which will have space for engineering and a greenhouse. Phase One has taken longer than Phase Two will, since it makes up the majority of the project.
“Phase One includes about 75 percent of the total square footage of the project,” said Semler. “The entire program for engineering and all of the labs and teaching spaces for biology and psychology are part of this phase, along with group study spaces, classrooms and seminar rooms.”
This semester alone, vast amounts of progress have been made in Phase One. Though construction is not yet complete, much of the building is nearly finished and departments should be moving in around June.
According to Semler, construction is ongoing inside and outside the building. Some of the outdoor construction includes stone masonry on the north and east sides and the installation of double-height glass entrances. Construction inside includes installation of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems and programming of the heating system.
Much of the construction also puts an emphasis on energy efficiency. The building will utilize different innovations to promote energy efficiency: radiant flooring will be used to directly heat spaces, large skylights and windows will bring natural light into the building, and stormwater management will utilize stormwater for flushing toilets. Like the Science Center, the BEP building also has bird safe window glazing, to prevent birds from flying into the windows.
Phase Two will begin in June, when Hicks Hall will be replaced with the atrium of the building — an area with a common space for students, similar to Eldridge Commons in the Science Center. The commons will provide writing space for students, just like the Eldridge Commons, with room to accommodate up to 125 individuals for community events and celebrations. Outside the commons will be a terrace with sheltered outdoor seating and a view of the Nason Garden, which will also be expanded. Above the commons will be rows of skylights and walkways connecting the BEP building currently under construction with the atrium. The atrium will also have an elaborate staircase where the main entrance to the building will be.
According to Semler, the biggest current challenge facing BEP construction is scheduling. Due to how short the overall schedule for Phase Two is, there is less room for interruptions such as those caused by weather.
“The working space in the Nason Garden for Phase Two construction will be much more limited than what is available along Whittier Place for Phase One, so careful scheduling of the various trades will be required to use the space efficiently,” Semler said. “The team will continue to be tightly focused on the schedule for final occupancy in summer 2020.”