A Guide to Construction Projects Under Way at WPI

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

WPI opened its doors for the first time in 1868 on a 20-acre campus with just two buildings, Boynton Hall and the Washburn Shops. Over the past 128 years, the campus has changed dramatically as dozens of buildings have been constructed, older facilities renovated, new property acquired, and roads, walkways and parking areas created. In fact, physical change is a fact of life at a university as dynamic as WPI.

This spring and summer, the evolution of the campus is continuing. Before the carillon on Alden Memorial calls students to classes once again in September, two major construction projects will be completed, another nearly finished and a third well under way. Like virtually every change to WPI's physical plant completed over the last century and a third, these initiatives are designed to make it easier for the university to complete its primary missions: to offer a high-quality education to its students, to provide a high quality of campus life for the entire WPI community, and to create new knowledge through leading-edge scholarship.

Read on to learn where construction is occurring on campus and what you'll see when the dust settles.

All of these construction projects are being coordinated by WPI's Plant Services Department. If you have comments or questions about the work in progress this spring and summer, we encourage you to contact the department at

Plant Services Department
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
100 Institute Road
Worcester, MA 01609-2280
Phone: (508) 831-5500
Fax: (508) 831-5855

Converting West Street to a Pedestrian Plaza

Beginning June 1996; Scheduled for Completion September 1996

Because West Street bisects the campus, splitting the academic core of buildings into east and west halves, students have had to cross this busy thoroughfare frequently on their way to classes, the library, residence halls, and so on. Concerned about the safety of its students, WPI successfully petitioned the city of Worcester in the fall of 1995 to close a portion of the street to vehicular traffic.

This summer, WPI will convert this portion of West Street into an attractive, park-like pedestrian mall. The asphalt and concrete that now dominates this section will be removed and replaced by grass and trees. A walkway wide enough to permit emergency ve hicles to pass will be constructed. The result will be a green space that neatly and beautifully unites the central portion of the campus.

Renovating Sanford Riley Hall

Beginning May 1996; Scheduled for Completion mid-August 1996

Sanford Riley Hall, completed in 1927, was WPI's first student residence hall. It was built with a leadership gift from Katherine Higgins Riley, made in memory of her husband, R. Sanford Riley, a member of the Class of 1896. With its beautiful brick and s tonework (including a statue of Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, high above the building's main entrance), its rich woodwork inside, and its Tudor design, the building was an elegant addition to the campus.

This summer, Sanford Riley is undergoing a complete refurbishment. The $3.3 million project, the first step in a five-year plan to renovate most of the Institute's residence halls, will include the renovation of every bedroom and bathroom and the installa tion of new furniture in all student bedrooms and study spaces. In addition, all windows will be replaced with new, energy-efficient units, the roof will be completely replaced, and an elevator will be installed to make the building handicapped-accessible.

Building New Research Facilities in Salisbury Laboratories

Beginning April 1996; Scheduled for Completion December 1996

This $2 million project, funded jointly by WPI and the National Science Foundation, will create a host of renovated and new facilities in Salisbury Laboratories for research, teaching and student project work in biology and biotechnology, the fastest growing academic discipline at WPI. The project will significantly upgrade several research labs, equipping them for state-of-the-art investigations in fields like molecular genetics, invertebrate zoology and bioremediation. A new greenhouse, to be built on the roof of Salisbury Labs, will be used for research in plant physiology and biotechnology, and for education in botany.

Renovating The Grille

Beginning May 1996; Scheduled for Completion August 1996

This summer will also see a major renovation of the Grille, a popular campus dining facility located in the "Wedge" between Daniels and Morgan halls. The remodeled Grille will feature a Burger King and two concept dining areas: Leo's Delancy St. Deli and World's Fare. The new concepts and food offerings were chosen based largely on feedback from the Grille Advisory Committee and guest response.

As Gompei's Place, the campus pizzeria and deli, will also be closed over the summer due to the renovations in Sanford Riley Hall, visitors are encouraged to dine in Morgan Cafeteria in Morgan Hall, which will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Relocating the Career Development Center

Beginning May 1996; Scheduled for Completion August 1996

During the summer, the Career Development Center (CDC) will be relocated from the third floor of Boynton Hall to the lower level of the Project Center. Prior to the move, the center's new location will be fully renovated. The CDC provides a wide range of career planning and employment services to WPI students and alumni. It also maintains facilities for use by corporate recruiters while they are on campus to conduct interviews with students. The center's new home will include significantly improved interview facilities and will offer a quieter and more comfortable environment for students and the CDC staff.