The Wachenheim Science Center
Williams College Science Renewal Project
With tremendous growth in the sciences and the need for new research, teaching, and equipment space, Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, sought to expand its existing science center to serve the educational demands of the science departments and their students. Nestled within the Berkshire mountains, the original campus buildings are modestly scaled pavilions set in the landscape and define a network of courtyards and outdoor spaces. While recent mega-building clusters were added to the campus, the college favored adding two modestly scaled buildings more in keeping with the original campus fabric over creating another singular megastructure. The buildings could still physically connect to the existing science center via bridge connections but would frame and shape the interconnected landscape that forms the spirit of the campus.
Payette Associates Inc., the architect and planner, and Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc. (SGH), the structural engineer, designed two buildings to revitalize the science campus. To the south, the Hopper Science Center, completed in 2018, provides new research space for the Biology, Chemistry, and Physics departments and houses new machine shops and an imaging facility. To the north, the Wachenheim Science Center was constructed on the old Bronfman Science Center site and provides research and teaching space for the Geosciences, Psychology, Mathematics, and Statistics departments. This article focuses on the structural design of the Wachenheim Science Center, completed in February 2021.