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Yale University plans to construct net-zero building for Physical Science and Engineering

Last Updated on 08th January 2024

The Physical Scientific and Engineering Building, or PSEB, a new more-than-$350 million complex slated for completion in 2027 and focusing on quantum and material science activities, has begun preliminary development.


PSEB will be near Wright Laboratory, north of Bass Center and east of the Class of 1954 Chemistry Research Building. The project was first announced in February of 2020, with construction expected to begin in 2023 and a projected completion date of late 2026.


The Phase 2 group, which includes teachers, facilities, and administrators from throughout the University, was announced by University Provost Scott Strobel on Dec. 1. The committee's job is to work with architects to inform the space's preliminary designs.


Karsten Heeger, chair of the Physics Department and director of the Wright Laboratory, and Sohrab Ismail-Beigi, professor of applied physics, physics, mechanical engineering, and materials science, are co-chairs of the 26-member committee.


In a combined email to the News, Heeger and Ismail-Beigi stated, "Thus far, the committee has discussed the intellectual vision for Phase 2 of PSEB, the laboratory and workspace specifications needed to support those visions, and how to build community around those visions."


She continues “The work of the committee will inform an iterative design process over the next 18-24 months resulting in a comprehensive set of construction plans.”


Construction will begin in the early spring of 2023, according to their email. Students will likely notice construction activity on Science Hill as work begins on numerous enabling projects — structures that must be removed or created before development on the main PSEB can begin — as part of the continuing Phase 2 planning.


A 253,000-square-foot research laboratory building, a 48,000-square-foot expansion to Wright Laboratory, and a 220-space parking garage are all part of the new site. Yale inked a $365 million contract with Turner Construction Company, which said in October that the project will use a net-zero strategy to focus on sustainability.


Heeger and Ismail-Beigi told the News that Wright Lab West and the Wright Lab Connector will be demolished to make room for PSEB. Programs that currently occupy parts of the two buildings will be relocated to new laboratories that will be constructed during the first phase of construction, which is scheduled to begin in spring 2023, and prior to any building demolition.


Wright Lab West and the Wright Lab Connector, according to Heeger and Ismail-Beigi, were built almost 70 years ago and are now being used for a completely different purpose than they were intended.


The co-chairs further stated that Wright Lab will continue its scientific activities throughout the development of PSEB. While the impact on students will "vary depending on site location," they wrote that any potential negative effects will be mitigated by relocating operations to the newly established laboratories.


According to Turner's press statement, the project will entail the destruction of a parking garage and a chemical safety facility, as well as the undergrounding of utilities and soil remediation.


A temporary chemical safety building will be built prior to the demolition of the existing facility, according to a presentation given at a February 2020 town hall during the original announcement of the structure's development.


A new parking lot is also being built to the north of Wright Lab. These enabling projects, according to Heeger and Ismail-email, Beigi's will take place during Phase 2, which is expected to last 18 to 24 months.


However, the co-chairs wrote that several of these construction elements, such as the chemical safety facility, are still being debated.


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