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Campus Construction Update

Many summer projects completed, but several others ongoing


This summer was typically busy for Colleen McGinty, Facilities Management & Planning (FM&P) executive director of construction services, who oversaw a total of 29 construction projects. But an extra hurdle was added when work began on the long-anticipated large-scale Commonwealth Avenue Bridge Replacement Project, which shut down a section of Comm Ave to vehicles for three weeks on July 26. But veteran problem solver McGinty had a contingency plan in place.

FM&P bought four bikes so staff could cycle up and down Comm Ave. The Office of the Registrar set aside two classrooms in East Campus for the department to use as temporary office space, and staffers made use of Skype in meetings. And subcontractors mapped out the new routes they would need to take to get to campus.

“The project helped us to be smarter and more sustainable, not to mention how impressed we all were with the actual implementation of the bridge deck project,” McGinty says. “Effective and efficient.”

The 29 maintenance and building projects on both the Charles River Campus and the Medical Campus ranged from renovated laundry rooms in all dorms (now completed) to a new state-of-the-art theater complex (not yet completed). These construction projects are in addition to the daily upkeep required to maintain BU’s 322 buildings and grounds (encompassing 135 acres, spread over two campuses).

Following is an update on the projects:

Commonwealth Avenue Improvements
Campus wide
This ongoing Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) undertaking will make traveling Commonwealth Avenue safer for bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists. Reconstruction of the avenue between Boston University and Allston, from the BU Bridge to Packard’s Corner, is expected to take three years. The upgrades will improve safety for all travelers by separating bicyclists from traffic on one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares. The new bike lanes, which will be between parked cars and the sidewalk, will be slightly sloped to prevent water pooling. Other improvements will be water filtration to prevent pollutants from flowing into the Charles River, more accessible sidewalks, and new traffic signals.

Commonwealth Avenue Bridge
Phase one of the MassDOT Commonwealth Avenue Bridge Replacement Project ran from July 26 to August 16 and involved replacing the eastbound portion of the bridge over the Mass Pike and both the eastbound and westbound trolley tracks. The second phase of the project, scheduled for summer 2018, will replace and reconfigure that portion of the westbound side of Comm Ave. The project will improve the safety of all bridge users, with dedicated bike lanes on the BU Bridge, a traffic signal at the University Road intersection, and sidewalk and pedestrian walkway enhancements.

Nutrition Station
300 Babcock Street
Per NCAA guidelines for Division 1 strength and conditioning centers, BU Athletics is building a nutrition station on the third floor of 300 Babcock Street this fall. The project will involve minor demolition, new construction, and upgraded finishes and millwork to accommodate new refrigerators and sinks.

Case Center
285 Babcock Street
The HVAC system for the three-court gymnasium is nearly 50 years old. The units run constantly throughout the day and upgrading them with time-of-day controls provides significant energy savings and more comfortable playing conditions. The project is currently in progress.

West Campus Residence Halls
273-377 Babcock Street
Phase two of electrical infrastructure upgrades in Claflin, Sleeper, and Rich Halls was completed this summer.

Bobcat assisting construction

The Comm Ave Bridge Replacement Project involved 44 steel girders. Photo by Cydney Scott

Agganis Arena
925 Commonwealth Avenue
An energy-efficiency project retrofitted Agganis Arena with LED lighting and occupancy-based controls. The custom-designed system meets NCAA championship lighting specifications and comes with a 10-year warranty. Switching the entire building from fluorescent and metal-halide lamps to LED lighting is expected to save 885,000 kilowatt-hours of energy per year.

Student Health Services
881 Commonwealth Avenue
Student Health Services renovations over the summer involved minor demolition of the current treatment rooms and construction to create additional treatment spaces. There were upgrades to interior finishes and lighting.

Information Services & Technology Classroom Upgrades
871, 755, and 725 Commonwealth Avenue
Classroom technology upgrades were made to rooms in Metropolitan College and the College of General Studies.

College of Fine Arts Joan and Edgar Booth Theatre & Boston University Production Center
820–846 Commonwealth Avenue
Work continues on BU’s new state of-the-art theater production and performance space. Designed by Boston architectural firm Elkus Manfredi, the 75,000-square-foot theater complex will house the 250-seat Joan and Edgar Booth Theatre, production and costume shops, design labs, and classrooms, and the complex will have a landscaped plaza.

The theater will sit atop a two-level, 182-space parking garage. In addition, there will be a reconfigured surface lot with room for 104 cars, for a total of 286 parking spaces. A new loading dock will serve the production and performance spaces and the historic Peter Fuller Building at 808 Commonwealth Avenue.

Work on the production wing has been completed, and it’s now open to classes. The theater is expected to be finished in November.

DeWolfe Boathouse
619 Memorial Drive, Cambridge
Renovations to BU’s Charles River boathouse continued this summer with funding provided by BU Athletics. Workers constructed a locker facility for the women’s lightweight rowing team, relocated coaching staff offices, and refurbished the facility’s meeting room, which was provided with new furnishings.

Sargent Gym
One University Road
With the building’s steam boiler near the end of its life expectancy, the heating system will be converted from steam to hot water (hydronic heating boiler) this fall.

Photonics Center Lab
8 St. Mary’s Street
Existing lab space on the building’s eighth floor will be renovated this fall to support two new researchers. The state-of-the-art optical labs will house wet labs and multiple gas storage areas for nanotechnology research. The work will be finished in January 2018.

Registrar Classrooms
725 Commonwealth Avenue
Renovations to five classrooms has created six standard classrooms with 134 seats. The flexible classrooms received media and lighting upgrades and new furniture.

Pedestrian crossing Comm Ave construction area

More accessible sidewalks are one of the perks coming to campus in the near future. Photo by Jackie Ricciardi

Learning & Event Technology Services
725 Commonwealth Avenue
Work in Room B-4 (previously an astronomy lab) expanded office space for Learning & Event Technology Services. The astronomy lab was relocated to the fourth floor.

College of Arts & Sciences
Campus wide
Labs in 675 Commonwealth Avenue were reconstructed to create new spaces for earth and environment faculty.

Renovations to a second-floor lab at 685 Commonwealth Avenue were designed to facilitate faculty collaboration, with new benches and finishes.

Existing office space was revamped to accommodate 16 new CAS faculty, 22 faculty offices received new paint, carpet, ceilings, lighting, and furniture, and 4 labs were renovated for new hires in chemistry, biology, and physics.

Dahod Family Alumni Center
225 Bay State Road
Work began this summer to transform the BU Castle into the Dahod Family Alumni Center, which will welcome alums when they visit the University. The mansion’s exterior face, roof, and windows will be restored, and the interior will be renovated to accommodate Alumni Relations offices and meeting spaces.

First floor space will be converted to a faculty and alumni dining area. HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems will be upgraded. The basement will house an expanded catering kitchen, the BU Pub, and a four-season patio outside the Pub. The LEED-certified project will provide the 100-year-old Tudor Revival structure with ADA accessibility. The center is scheduled to open during Alumni Weekend 2018.

College of Engineering
44 Cummington Mall
Workers installed a new a fire alarm system, including bidirectional amplifiers to improve communications.


bike lane construction on Comm Ave

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is continuing the reconstruction of Commonwealth Avenue to make it safer for bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists, by creating new bike lanes, more accessible sidewalks, and new traffic signals. Photo by Cydney Scott.

College of Communication WTBU Radio Station
640 Commonwealth Avenue
Renovations to rebuild the student-run WTBU radio station on the third floor of the College of Communication have been completed; the studio will reopen October 4. The studio was destroyed by fire in 2016.

ENG Biomedical Engineering Lab
24 Cummington Mall
Suites 223 and 224A were renovated to accommodate a new biomedical engineering faculty member. The 2,500-square-foot area now has multiple optics labs and fabrication and electronics assembly spaces.

Sargent College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences
635 Commonwealth Avenue
Offices for new Sargent faculty members received refurbishments, such as paint, carpet, and furniture.

Lab 420 was renovated to accommodate a new faculty member. A microscopy area was installed, with new partitions and lab tables. Mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems were modified.

Work began to replace the oldest centrifugal chillers on the Charles River Campus. The new energy-efficient chillers use modern refrigerants and are expected to last more than 25 years.

Last, a new high-voltage electrical line was installed as a backup power line for the building.

CAS Biology Labs
3-5 Cummington Mall
Labs on the second and fourth floors were renovated for a new biology faculty member. The work consisted of upgrades to mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, and new finishes.

Renovations to another second-floor lab prepared the space for a new faculty member in the marine biology program.

Sargent College Research Labs
677 Beacon Street
Among the renovations were updated lab finishes, casework, HVAC, and electrical systems.

Myles Standish Hall
610 Beacon Street
Work to preserve and modernize the original hotel and annex are well under way. Constructed in the mid 1920s, this suite-style former hotel has provided housing to BU undergrads since 1949. The LEED-registered design maximizes the number of private bedrooms and incorporates amenities and common spaces.

Phase one renovations were completed this summer. Work began in May 2017 on phase two, and the final phase will begin in May 2018. The project includes enlivening the Beacon Street streetscape with an active community space. Read more about part one of the renovation here.

One of the new study rooms inside Myles Standish Hall. Photo by Dan Aguirre

Laundry Room Upgrades
Campus wide
More than 300 washing machines were replaced in BU housing. Finishes and electrical and plumbing infrastructure were updated to support the new washers. The Energy Star machines are expected to save more than one million gallons of water annually.

Life Safety Systems
Campus wide
Fire alarm system upgrades, including the installation of additional fire pumps, are currently being made in dormitory, rental, and research buildings.

Medical Campus
Conte Building
71 East Concord Street
A 20-year-old third-floor laboratory was renovated to accommodate the Mass Spectrometry Lab. The new open lab incorporates modular, expandable benches, an enclosed mass spec area, a tissue culture room, a microscope room, a conference room, a kitchen, and offices. Restrooms were updated to comply with ADA standards. Additional work included hallway and elevator lobby renovations, new LED lights, plumbing, flooring, paint, electrical, and HVAC work, and installation of a new air handler unit.

Houseman Building
778 Harrison Avenue
Several first-floor classrooms in the McNary Learning Center were updated with new AV equipment, glass whiteboards, LED lighting, and paint.

Robinson Building
750 Harrison Avenue
Continuing Medical Education was relocated to make room for classrooms and student lounge space. Over the summer, workers installed LED lighting and new flooring, doors, blinds, and signage. Direct digital controls were added to the HVAC fan coil units.

School of Public Health Talbot Building
715 Albany Street
Cosmetic renovations to eight restrooms at SPH are continuing this fall. The facilities have not been updated for more than 20 years. This work marks the beginning of efforts to refresh and modernize the Talbot Building.

Amy Laskowski, Senior Writer at Boston University Marketing & Communications editorial department
Amy Laskowski

Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu.

3 Comments on Campus Construction Update

  • Grad on 10.03.2017 at 1:20 pm

    “… and the historic Peter Fuller Building…”
    So this bland old building will never be replaced.

  • Dan on 10.03.2017 at 5:19 pm

    Comm Ave: Keeping road construction workers continuously employed somewhere between Boston and Newton since 1630.

  • PMM on 10.06.2017 at 6:14 am

    What happened to the makeover project to the CFA building at 855 Commonweath Ave? Is there a new date for construction and completion, or has the project been abandoned? The building and space is tired and the updates proposed and budgeted a couple of years ago are needed.

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