On Friday, February 24th, Tufts Energy Group organized a tour of the new Science and Engineering Complex (SEC) that is expected to be completed this summer and earn LEED Gold certification. Robinson, Anderson, and the rest of the complex are now connected by an atrium. The new building will be home to Civil and Environmental Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Biology, and part of the Department of Mathematics. This complex will also host a number of engineering and science courses and several collaborative, multidisciplinary research labs. Some space in the west wing of the building will be reserved for future department growth.
Image of multidisciplinary lab spaces. Labs inside the glass rooms and the outer shared work space is on the right side.
The project planning was also constructed around the creation of an innovative, livable, open space that demonstrates “science on display.” A key feature of this goal is the building’s atrium.
A view of the SEC atrium feature.
All central spaces face into the atrium to provide light—thereby saving on some energy costs—and create a more livable space with views. And there are bridges between buildings that will be outfitted with tables as a casual workspace.
The SEC bridges will be furnished with tables and chairs.
People from inside the atrium can look up and see others at work in conference rooms, classrooms, and labs while they grab the coffee at a new café—similar to Brown and Brew—on the Dearborn side of the building. This café space has a blank wall—the backside of Robinson Hall—for temporary art installations from the SMFA program; the project manager said he is considering projecting the art installations onto the wall to allow for more Tufts community artists to show their work.
There are more student gathering spaces and rooms on each floor of the building to facilitate collaboration. Outside of the building, facing Dearborn Road, there is new landscaping that aids water permeation with 600 holes drilled under the concrete slabs and provides outdoor seating.
The new landscaping outside the building is a great place to sit and breath and helps water percolate into the soil!
This building will encourage more sustainable behaviors by providing more accessibility to students, faculty, and staff who bike. There are showers in the basement for commuters such as cyclists to use. Also housed in the basement will be a campus-wide Makerspace! This will further the community building and interdisciplinary work provided by the space of the complex.
Another project goal is to keep energy use low. Achieving this level of efficiency, estimated to be 100 KBTUs (British Thermal Units), is a feat of ingenuity and complex systems to reduce energy usage. The building’s Konvekta system circulates heated or cooled air throughout the spaces and recovers all possible exhaust heat to reduce energy inputs without risking exhaust air leaks into supplied air.
The efficiency of the building can largely be attributed to the heat recovery system called Konvekta!
The air quality is constantly monitored, especially in lab spaces, through a system called Aircuity that samples outside and inside using a powerful vacuum for carbon, dust, hydrocarbons, and humidity. This information helps the Konvekta system regulate air circulation as well.
The Aircuity system helps to test the air quality throughout the building.
All lighting has been converted to LED, the windows are triple-glazed to let light in and better insulate the building, and there is interior shading to block the sun.
The SEC is currently undergoing the process of commissioning to check that all its 625-odd moving parts are working as planned, and will continue to be testing its functions throughout the next 12 months; however, the east wing of the building will be occupied by this summer and in use in the coming academic year.