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At Boston University’s dental school, ‘under construction’ won’t mean ‘closed for business’

A major renovation and addition are scheduled to minimize operational disruption.

April 26, 2018 |

Boston University's Goldman School of Dental Medicine will increase its clinical space by 60% through a renovation and addition that are being conducted while the school stays open and continues to offer its services to students and the community. Image: SmithGroupjjr

On April 5, Shawmut Design and Construction broke ground on a 41,900-sf expansion and 53,100-sf renovation of Boston University’s Goldman School of Dental Medicine.

The building team that includes Smith Group JJR (design architect, SE, MEP), Compass Project Management (project manager), and Haley Aldrich (geotech engineer), expects to be onsite for 32 months, during which the school—an active building with over 200 students, plus faculty, staff, and thousands of patients per year—will remain open.

This is a common challenge for rehab projects, complicated in this case by a tight urban site and a building with only a 13,000-sf floor plate—“a postage stamp,” says Shawmut’s Vice President Kevin Sullivan—the building team has to work within.

To keep the school open during work, Sullivan says his firm started by “overcommunicating” with shareholders who included the school’s dean, and its directors of facilities and operations.

The Building Team came up with a multi-phase schedule that will work on the basement, first floor, and part of the second floor first; the two additions next; and then renovate the upper floors. Sullivan explains that this schedule allows for floors and utilities to be isolated, which will sometimes require installing temporary systems to avoid operational disruptions. It will also minimize the need to move students and patients around.

A link to download a virtual reality walkthrough video of this project, posted by Shawmut, can be accessed here.

A rendering of an operatory inside Boston University's renovated and expanded dental school. Image: SmithGroupjjr


The isolations will also allow the team to minimize vibration on occupants caused by drilling into concrete to install new façade that lets in more light into the building and blends in with the facades of other buildings in the neighborhood. Because of the tight site space, the Building Team had to close two traffic lanes and move a bus stop.

The expansion will include office, instructional, clinical, and student collaborative spaces on seven existing levels, plus support spaces and a new 140-seat auditorium on the first floor.

The renovation will reconfigure the layout of the patient and student/faculty entry, as well as its clinical, classroom, and student spaces.

All told, the project will increase clinical space by more than 60%, make treatment areas more comfortable and flexible, and provide a student and resident lounge, a café, and collaborative study area on the first floor. With the addition, the school’s floor plate will increase to 18,000 sf.  

The project’s completion data is slated for December 2020.

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