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Renovated Perry Hall Bigger, Better Than Ever

Video by Alfonso Velasquez
While students were away, Facilities Management was busy renewing and modernizing several buildings across campus. Check out some of the work.

Facilities Management Crosses $50M Renovation Project off List

Faculty and students set up a research lab at Perry Hall Photo by Ed Brennen
Assoc. Prof. of Chemical Engineering Dongming Xie, second from right, and his research team set up their new lab at the renovated Perry Hall.

By Ed Brennen

Call it Perry Hall, version 2.0.

Closed for the past 18 months for a $50 million renovation project, Perry Hall reopened its doors on North Campus over the winter intersession, as faculty from the Francis College of Engineering began moving lab equipment into the fully refreshed, state-of-the-art facility.

Perry Hall features eight new labs (three teaching and five research) for biomedical, chemical and environmental engineering, as well as biomanufacturing and clean energy. Dedicated co-location spaces, meanwhile, will enable the university to expand its industry partnerships.

The building has three classrooms, four conference rooms and several open collaboration spaces with whiteboards and comfortable, contemporary furniture scattered across each of its four floors.

An open collaboration space at the renovated Perry Hall Photo by Ed Brennen
The renovated Perry Hall features several open collaboration spaces on each floor.

Originally known as the Engineering Building when it opened in 1952, Perry Hall was later named in honor of Barry Perry ’68, ’15 (H), a plastics engineering alumnus who attended the university on a scholarship. Perry went on to become the chairman and CEO of the Engelhard Corporation, a leading chemical and metals firm, as well as one of the university’s most generous benefactors, endowing numerous scholarships and facilities improvements.

Over time, Perry Hall had begun to show its age due to deferred maintenance and a 2012 fire that led to the closure of the entire fourth floor.

In addition to a gut renovation of the building’s existing 47,825 square feet of space, the project included the addition of 5,600 square feet of new space on the reopened fourth floor, which now connects to adjacent Ball Hall.

Engineering Dean Joseph Hartman says the renovation work transformed “a worn instructional facility into a vibrant and diverse setting for academic research and teaching.”

Assoc. Prof. of Mechanical Engineering Juan Pablo Trelles, who conducts research on renewable energy, says his team’s new fourth-floor lab space is a vast improvement over previous labs in Ball and Falmouth halls.

An artist rendering of a new classroom at Olsen Hall Photo by Facilities Management
An architectural rendering of a new third-floor classroom at Olsen Hall.

“Our research group will be able to work in close collaboration with other groups on campus on major societal energy challenges, such as the synthesis of carbon-neutral fuels, advanced biomass utilization and grid-scale batteries,” Trelles says. “Particularly, our research on the direct utilization of solar energy and electricity for the synthesis of added-value chemicals, such as fuels, will benefit tremendously from having a dedicated room for our high-flux solar simulator set-up, which allows highly controlled tests.” 

Trelles adds that the lab’s open-floor setup, along with the proximity of the office space and common areas, will allow for better exchanges among faculty and students and improve research productivity and the quality of experience for students.

The project included accessibility upgrades, new windows and updated electrical, plumbing and fire protection systems. Perry Hall also has a new main entrance from the Cumnock Courtyard, a separate $2.13 million project that is scheduled to be completed this summer.

A formal ribbon-cutting ceremony at Perry Hall is scheduled for April 25.

Completion of Perry Hall was one of many projects that Facilities Management worked on during winter break:

The renovated dining area at the Southwick Food Court Photo by Ed Brennen
The Southwick Food Court dining area has been refreshed with all-new furniture and flooring.

  • At Olsen Hall, work is underway on a $12.3 million renewal of the second and third floors, which will be the new home of the Department of Biological Sciences. The second floor will include 31 faculty offices, along with conference rooms and collaboration spaces. The third floor will feature 10 new classrooms (ranging in size from 18 to 100 seats), as well as study and collaboration spaces. Formerly home of the Computer Science Department (which moved to Dandeneau Hall last fall), the renovated floors are scheduled to be complete this August.
  • In the Falmouth Annex building (formerly the Grounds Maintenance Garage behind Falmouth Hall), a new concrete testing lab and student club workspace was completed. The flexible, 3,000-square-foot open space includes a concrete canoe fabrication area, as well as areas for welding, assembly, painting and storage. The facility will be used primarily by the civil and mechanical engineering departments, along with student clubs that take part in concrete canoe, steel bridge and Formula SAE competitions.
  •  At the Southwick Food Court, the dining area has been totally refreshed with new flooring and furniture. The area has been designed to serve as a study and hangout space for computer science students from Dandeneau Hall when the food court is closed. 
  • Across University Avenue at Alumni Hall, work continues on a $2.3 million renovation of the popular event space, which is scheduled to reopen this summer. As part of the project, the Faculty Senate Office and the Massachusetts Society of Professors’ Lowell office have moved to the basement of Cumnock Hall. 
  • At the Campus Recreation Center on East Campus, the front atrium has been converted into additional workout space with new cardio equipment. The project also included a redesign of the front desk area, and the flooring was replaced in the existing second-floor weight and cardio room.
  • And on South Campus, work continues on the $44 million renovation of Coburn Hall, which is scheduled to reopen early next year as the new home of the College of Education and the Psychology Department.