Second WIT Task Force meeting held on proposed academic building

May 5, 2017
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By Beth Treffeisen

Special to the Gazette

The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) held a second Wentworth Institute Of Technology Task Force meeting on April 5 to discuss the school’s proposal for a new academic building.

The project will require an amendment to WIT’s institutional master plan (IMP), because it has changed in scope since it was originally approved. An IMP is a comprehensive development plan that describes an institution’s existing facilities, long-range planning goals, and proposed projects. The Boston Redevelopment Authority, which has since been re-branded to BPDA, approved the WIT’s IMP in 2010.

“We don’t have a name yet for the building but we would also like to put a donor name in front it,” said David Wahlstrom the vice president for business at Wentworth laughing. “We’re working hard to get that.”

At about 64 feet in height and approximately 78,000 square feet, the multipurpose academic building to be located at 555 Parker St. will contain laboratories, student learning and group meeting space, offices, and storage space on floors two through four.

The first floor’s maker-space, and manufacturing and gathering space are intended to invite people from around campus to experience first-hand displays of Wentworth’s engineering capabilities and teachings.

The new building will work to accommodate Wentworth’s transition from a focus on engineering technology to engineering innovation in areas such as biological engineering. This transition requires new and different teaching and learning spaces.

The building will be located at the center of Wentworth campus on the eastern edge of the academic quad. It will sit between Watson Hall and the Nelson Recreation Center on Parker Street across from Annex Complex.

The new building will create a new pedestrian throughway across the plaza where the tennis courts are, which are currently cutting it off.

The current space is about 34,000 square feet and currently contains three outdoor tennis courts.

“It completes the quad,” said Josiah Stevenson the architect behind the project from Leers Weinzapfel Associates. “The scale and size and tone of the building brings the campus into the future.”

The project will take nearly two years to complete. Wentworth plans to break ground for the building this summer and to occupy it in spring 2019.

Expected to cost about $55 million, the building will house Wentworth’s new biological engineering program, its biomedical, civil engineering, and experiential learning programs, the Accelerate, Wentworth Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center, and science and manufacturing labs.

The building will be LEED silver certified and will sport solar fins to capture the suns energy to power the building.

“The building really fits into the scale of Wentworth,” said Stevenson.

This is one of five projects that were approved by the then Boston Redevelopment Authority (now the BPDA) in December 2010 IMP amendments.

The other projects include the completed Flanagan Campus Center at Beatty Hall, the 18,000 square feet of academic addition to the Ira Allen Building at 540 Parker St., and the student apartments at 525 Huntington Ave.

It also includes the BPDA board approved project of the new Sweeney Field Athletics Complex that will have an athletics playing field on top a sing story structure that will contain about 330 parking spaces.

The current proposed project that will serve as the Center for Engineering and Technology is the last to be fulfilled as part of the 2010 IMP.

“We have a lot of projects that start and expand and grow and change when we hear back from the community,” said Sandy Pascal from Wentworth. “Something new always is exciting and engaging for your community. As for getting close neighbors of Wentworth engaged we are very pleased with this project.”

The comment period for the proposed academic building ended yesterday, May 4. For more information, visit bit.ly/2oUqFUf.

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