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Living and Learning Center, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences

Worcester, Massachusetts

September 01, 2007 |

From its humble beginnings as a tiny pharmaceutical college founded by 14 Boston pharmacists, the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences has grown to become the largest school of its kind in the U.S.

For more than 175 years, MCPHS operated solely in Boston, on a quaint, 2,500-student campus in the heart of the city's famed Longwood Medical and Academic Area. By the late 1990s, however, the campus was bursting at the seams as the demand for pharmacy and health sciences professionals skyrocketed.

To accommodate the rapid growth, college officials set forth an ambitious plan to build a satellite campus in Worcester for 400 students, including housing for 175 graduate students.

Worcester is home to a number of prestigious clinical organizations, including the UMass Memorial Medical Center, providing plenty of partnership opportunities for the school. The city is also in the midst of an aggressive urban revitalization effort, and MCPHS was viewed by city officials as crucial to rejuvenating the city core.

In 2000, MCPHS snatched up two adjacent historic buildings in the heart of the city and within months converted the first—an 1890s-era commercial structure—into 60,000 sf of research, instruction, and lab space. Soon after, the college began work on the crown jewel of its new satellite campus: the nine-story, 100,000-sf Living and Learning Center.

The $20 million project involved restoring and converting the 1913 Graphic Arts Building into a mixed-use facility complete with street-level retail, classrooms, labs, conference rooms, faculty offices, and five levels of apartment-style residence space.

The construction effort was split into two phases and spanned 16 months. It involved the addition of a ninth floor, restoration of the existing façade, the gut-conversion of the eight existing floors, and construction of three CMU shafts from the basement to the top floors to accommodate new fire stairs and elevators and to support the rooftop addition.

The Building Team employed a fast-track schedule that left little room for error. Case in point: The critical-path schedule for the rooftop addition left less than two months for the installation and testing of new electrical and mechanical rooms on the top floor.

“This project is a great example of superior logistics in construction,” said Reconstruction Awards judge Kenneth R. Osmun, P.E., DBIA, president of Wight Construction, Darien, Ill.

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