University of Chicago William Eckhardt Research Center
The five story, 270,000 SF William Eckhardt Research Center is the center for physical science research on The University of Chicago’s Hyde Park campus. It features laboratories, offices and conference rooms for the Astronomy and Astrophysics Department. It is also home to the University’s new molecular engineering program, for which it contains vibration-dampening clean rooms and molecular imaging space in two basement levels that reach a depth of 45 feet. Development of the Research Center Project also resulted in the construction of the adjacent North Science Quadrangle, an open greenspace which lies above Eckhardt’s two basement levels.
David Mason + Associates provided civil engineering services for this project, including design phase and construction phase services. Our responsibilities included demolition of existing site elements; site geometry and layout; design of loading docks; paving/hardscape design for vehicular and pedestrian circulation; utility modifications and new services; grading and drainage design; and storm water management. We also provided assistance and coordination with the City of Chicago regulatory authorities for approvals and permits.
This project presented some unique challenges for our designers. Three buildings at the site were demolished to make way for the new building. Slurry wall construction was used to address issues related to hardpan soil, sand, a high water table and the close proximity of neighboring buildings. Our design focused on sustainable sites initiatives which included permeable paving and an underground storm water retention system that is used for irrigation. The University is currently seeking LEED Gold Certification for the project.
Photo: Photo Credit