On March 19, WPI was honored with two awards from the American Council of Engineering Companies at the ACEC/MA 2014 Engineering Excellence Awards gala.
Known in the industry as the Academy Awards of engineering, the ACEC presented a silver award honoring outstanding professional design for the university’s ground-breaking and innovative rooftop sports field and garage and bestowed a bronze award for its Laser Scanning for Future Planning project.
“This recognizes the innovative creativity that WPI has that goes beyond the classroom into practicing what you preach,” says Alfredo DiMauro, assistant vice president for facilities.
The field solved a dual challenge of creating more field space and more parking space on a land-locked urban campus. “We came up with a solution for a very challenging project,” says DiMauro.
The garage, with full-size softball and soccer fields (and within those, fields for lacrosse and field hockey) above and 527 parking spaces below, was the first of its kind in Massachusetts and is the second largest in New England, says DiMauro. And with that size, the university still had to make it unobtrusive and appealing to the surrounding residential neighborhood. “The neighbors were nervous, but then they saw that we did what we said we were going to do,” he says. Planting rows of 26-foot-tall evergreen trees along with flowering trees while also sparing two 250-year-old oak trees kept the space community friendly.
With its sheer size came some real engineering challenges, one of which was the runoff and drainage issues of removing quantities of water from the field so teams could play even in wet conditions. The fields are pitched to the sides, says DiMauro, and the perimeter has drainage around the sides.
Michael Bouchard, senior associate and project architect of Symmes Maini and McKee Associates, says he is pleased with the award, but even more thrilled with the final result.
“Whenever you are acknowledged by your professional community, it’s great,” he says. “But for the campus, the field defines that edge of the campus and helps to extend the athletic presence on campus, too.” As an architect and as part of the team, Bouchard says it’s rewarding to see such a benefit to the university community.