PDSI Construction Nears Completion; Buildings Consolidate Physics Dept.

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MIT’s newest building, 6C, is integrated with the rest of the Main Group buildings through an atrium full of footbridges.
Andrew Lukmann

The construction of a new physics building that will unify the department’s offices and related renovations of Buildings 2, 4, 6, and 8 are nearing completion after two years of work.

Unexpected contamination in the soil caused a delay in construction, which combined with initial delay due to budget approval, pushed the finish date from spring 2007 to fall 2007, said construction manager Milan Pavlinic.

The contamination problems are also expected to raise the final cost of the building above the originally allocated number of around $50 million, Pavlinic said.

Minor tasks remaining will be finished in time for the opening celebration at 3:30 p.m. in the new building, 6C, on Oct. 5, 2007.

The construction project consolidated the Department of Physics, which had been spread over 13 buildings, into the new building 6C and neighboring buildings.

In a move of “unprecedented cooperation” between departments, the administrative offices for the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and for the Department of Physics swapped places as part of the project, said Sean P. Robinson, space and renovation manager for the Department of Physics. The new physics headquarters is now located on the third floor of Building 8 and Materials Science and Engineering headquarters is on the first floor of Building 6.

The Spectroscopy Laboratory displaced by Building 6C moved into new laboratories in the basement of Building 6A.

The new physics building “succeeded at a balance between openness and privacy,” said Robinson. The project also added an air conditioning system, other utility services, up to date sprinklers, electric codes, and fire alarms to Buildings 4, 6, and 8.

As part of MIT’s Percent-for-Art program to commission art for major constructions, the floor of the atrium in 6C includes the designs of American conceptual artist, Sol LeWitt.

The atrium will be open to the public from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. and open with MIT card access during the night, said Gerald Hughes, facilities manager for the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

Payette Associates completed a design for the PDSI project in 2004, and construction started in the fall of 2005. The Physics Department’s effort to consolidate began in the late 1970s according to Robinson but never succeeded until Dean of Science Marc A. Kastner, then the head of the Department of Physics, and A. Neil Pappalardo ’64, member of the MIT Corporation, raised the issue again.