Location Bridgewater, MA
Size 211,000 ft²
Completed 2012
Program Classrooms, laboratories, offices

Bridgewater State University (BSU) is nearly 175 years old, but it’s still finding ways to make its campus cutting-edge through the use of new green building practices. We recently sat down with Jennifer Wrynn, project manager of facilities management and planning at BSU, to learn about the university’s newly expanded, $98.7 million Marshall Conant Science Building, and what this new LEED Silver-certified building means for the future of BSU.

When did BSU start to recognize that it needed to update the old science building?
Jennifer Wrynn: Bridgewater State University has expanded its campus immensely in the past 10 years with the number of buildings on campus as well as growing student enrollment. That’s really what inspired the need for an updated science and mathematics facility. The existing building, constructed in 1964, was state-of-the-art at the time of its construction, however, with the changing academic needs and larger student population, it was necessary to build a larger, more modernized science and mathematics facility.


Client Bridgewater State University
Architect Payette Architects
Construction Management Barr & Barr
Project Management Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management

How was the old program set up?
Wrynn: The program in the existing building included biology, chemistry, geography, physics, and geology, which is everything the new building includes, with the exception of computer science and mathematics. Some issues concerning the existing building layout regarded the program being scattered throughout the building. Also, the observatory of the physics department was located off-site, which made it difficult for students and faculty members to use the observatory efficiently. As a whole, the building contained poor ventilation, a considerable amount of hazardous material, and outdated classroom layouts.

Bridgewater State’s new science center improves academics through state-of-the-art labs and open gathering spaces. And above it all is a green roof.


It sounds like it was time for a new science building.
Wrynn: It was. We started forming the plan for the new building in 2005, when the legislature approved a $2 billion higher education bond bill. We started construction in 2009, opting to separate the project into two phases, since we still had to use part of the old building while constructing the new one. The first phase involved the total construction of the new 168,300-square-foot addition, which was completed in August 2011. Once that was done, we started Phase II in September 2011, where the team did a selective demolition and renovation of the old, 43,000-square-foot structure and small connecting addition. We received the certificate for occupancy for the whole project in July 2012.

How did the project allow you to reformulate the programs for the Conant building?
Wrynn: The project, designed by Boston-based Payette Architects, was conceptualized around the idea of increasing interdisciplinary collaboration between each department while also allowing each department to establish itself separately. A glass atrium unites the three wings, and there is a botanical feature under the main staircase. By separating the programs, we were able to create specialized labs and sections that the undergraduates didn’t have access to in the old building. Some green features of the new building include a rooftop observatory, rain gardens, a greenhouse, horizontal sun shading, greywater systems, and occupancy sensors. We are also able to use the rooftop observatory for after-school and community outreach programs, which helps to educate not only the students but residents of Bridgewater and Southeastern Massachusetts about the building.


Certification LEED Silver
Site Expands upon existing structure
Daylighting Narrow building profile for maximum daylighting
Air Demand-control ventilation
Water Rooftop water capture feeds green roof and ground-level landscape
Energy Energy Star equipment and appliances

What are some of the other sustainable new elements you added to the building?
Wrynn: There are 35 teaching labs, 19 specialty labs, and 17 classrooms in the building; some of the specialty labs include teaching for cellular research, botany, and ecology. The geography department has an updated wind tunnel lab. The greenhouse has water collection spouts and barrels, which water the various ground and rooftop landscaping on-site. All of these features are open, so students can interact with them and learn from them.

Is Conant the first LEED-certified building at BSU?
Wrynn: Crimson Residence Hall, which opened in 2008, was the first LEED project on campus. We created two more LEED-certified residence halls in 2009 and 2010, but Conant was the first academic building to achieve LEED certification. For future projects, such as the 500-bed Weygand Residence Hall, we’re going to keep aiming for this level. It’s something we’re trying to introduce throughout the campus to educate the students.

What made Conant different from your other projects?
Wrynn: In the pre-design phases, we worked really closely with the faculty. We wanted to involve them and worked diligently with them to figure out what their needs were for their own programs. It’s rare to use this tactic on a project of this scale, but I think the team members from Payette Architects and Barr & Barr were just as interested in the needs of the faculty. More importantly, the students are really excited about the building, and it brings BSU’s academics to an entirely new level.