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4 April 2014

The University of Chicago Celebrates Topping Out of New William Eckhardt Research Facility


Team members from the University of Chicago, HOK and W.E. O’Neil Construction gathered at the site of the university’s new 265,000-square-foot William Eckhardt Research Center (WERC) for the building’s topping-out ceremony.

The March 20 event celebrated construction progress and the project milestone of placing the final beam at the highest point of the new WERC Building, which will open in 2015.

WERC Topping Out

Photo courtesy of W.E. O’Neil Construction.

The topping-out event included a recognition lunch for design and construction team members who have contributed to the project. Boyd Black, assistant vice president for capital project delivery; Rocky Kolb, Division of the Physical Sciences dean; and Matt Tirrell, Institute of Molecular Engineering Pritzker director, commended the team on their efforts.

WERC Topping Out

Left to right: John Ekholm (University of Chicago Facility Services), Lou Oswald (HOK), Jeff Parfitt (IDEA) and Nai Owens (HOK). Photo courtesy of W.E. O’Neil Construction.

The HOK-designed building will help the University of Chicago maintain its position as a world leader in research in the physical sciences and enable it to expand its capabilities in molecular engineering and in broader research areas.

The WERC Building will bring diverse university research programs into a single setting for collaborative research and discovery. It will house physics, biology and chemistry research labs for the Division of the Physical Sciences, including the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics and the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, as well as the university’s new Institute of Molecular Engineering.

Susan Heersema

HOK’s Susan Heersema signs the final beam. Photo courtesy of W.E. O’Neil Construction.

The two top levels of the WERC Building will house flexible physics laboratory space in the center of the floor plate, with offices at the perimeter. These labs will provide a high-hat zone in the center that is free of major mechanical systems and can serve as an adaptable experimental area. The second and third levels will house chemistry and biology labs. Two basement levels will include a 10,000-square-foot cleanroom and an imaging suite for electron microscopes, as well as high performance optics laboratories.

See more photos from the topping out ceremony and view the project webcam.