This week, Boston University is celebrating the completion of the $115 million renovation and expansion of the Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine, designed by SmithGroup, one of the nation’s leading integrated design firms. The project transforms the existing dental school facility, expanding and improving predoctoral clinical spaces, integrating the new preclinical Simulation Learning Center into the facility, and supporting student collaboration and peer-to-peer learning.
SmithGroup designed the expansion and renovation of the mid-century building as a phased renovation that allowed the dental school to continue providing cutting-edge education to its students and high-quality oral healthcare to its patients, who are often among the most underserved populations in Boston.
A seven-story addition on the building’s west side and a two-story addition on the north side expanded the existing building on Albany Street, and 63,000 sf of interiors were renovated. The mid-century building was reclad with a modern high-performance façade accented with terracotta and wood grain panels and featuring integrated lighting, creating a strong architectural statement reflecting the innovative vision of the school.
“We are very fortunate to have partnered with BU on a strategic planning process for their dental school facilities as well as a facilities master plan for the greater medical campus,” said Chris Purdy, director of SmithGroup’s higher education practice. “The alignment of both those planning processes allowed BU to conceptualize a new paradigm for dental education, leading us to design a dynamic new facility for state-of-the-art oral healthcare and education.”
The new facility incorporates the Simulation Learning Center, which has 117 student stations as well as two instructional/teacher stations outfitted with state-of-the-art technology, including simulators, intraoral scanners, ultrasonic scalers, electric handpieces, curing units for composite restoration, and a high-speed evacuation system.
“Under the leadership of dean emeritus, Dr. Jeffrey W. Hutter, BU was the first dental school in the U.S. to implement a ‘fully digital’ vision for providing oral healthcare to its patients and for educating its students,” said current dean ad interim Cataldo Leone. “The new Simulation Learning Center closely aligns with what students will use in the clinical environment, better preparing them for the later phases of their educational experience.”
The project added 28 new chairs to the predoctoral Patient Treatment Center totaling 100 chairs spread over three floors and five distinct spaces in the renewed dental school. The Patient Treatment Center is outfitted with state-of-the-art dental technology including digital radiography with multi-dimensional imagining capabilities, along with cutting-edge laboratories that house dental 3D printers and robust five-axis milling units.
The improvement and expansion of the school’s clinical facilities ensures that it will be able to provide its patients with the best oral healthcare possible while incorporating these advanced technologies into its clinical curriculum, maintaining the school’s position as a global leader in dental education.
The project also includes the creation of student-centered collaborative and learning environments, which did not exist in the original dental school facility. A new academic entrance on East Newton Street leads to student collaborative space for informal learning and social gathering.
“Student collaboration spaces were a priority in the design of the renewed dental school,” said Darin Daguanno, lead designer for the project. “These informal spaces dramatically improve the student experience, and strengthen the fabric of the school community, giving students the ability to gather together to study, socialize and learn from one another.”
A flexible, 140-seat lecture hall provides a venue for the school’s larger classes, as well as events and symposia. A mix of flexible and fixed furniture provides agility to convert the room for many purposes. Embedded technologies enable distance learning or course recordings to expand educational modes. Lighting is designed to fully support the flexibility of the space, allowing levels to be adjusted for different teaching styles, technology uses, or event types. A backlit writable glass teaching wall is dimmable and color-changing, allowing the atmosphere to vary from quiet study to active learning to event. Immediately outside the lecture hall is a pre-function space, supporting its use for receptions and other events, while also providing break-out space for collaborative learning.
Construction of the project was structured into four phases, allowing the dental school to continue educational and patient care operations uninterrupted. The phased planning enabled such flexibility that construction activity could be reprioritized in the final phase, when COVID-19 safety protocols were enacted and a construction moratorium was mandated by the City of Boston, allowing the school to still meet its targeted July 2021 completion.
SmithGroup’s Detroit and Boston offices provided integrated design services including master planning, architecture, interior architecture, building enclosure consulting, MEP engineering, structural engineering, lighting design, and landscape architecture. Shawmut Design and Construction (Boston) served as the general contractor and Compass Project Management, Inc. (Norwood, Mass.) as the owner’s project manager. Other key design team members include Nitsch Engineering (Boston) providing civil engineering.
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Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine (www.bu.edu/dental) is a premier academic dental institution promoting excellence in dental education, research, oral healthcare, and community service to improve the overall health of the global population. With a facility of more than 325 educators, clinicians, and research and more than 250 staff members, the school, which was founded in 1963, offers a full spectrum of predoctoral and postdoctoral education programs and a complete range of graduate programs and degrees to more than 800 students. The school has more than 8,000 alumni who live and practice around the world.
Shawmut Design and Construction (www.shawmut.com) is a $1.5 billion national construction management firm with a reputation for completing extremely complex and logistically challenging projects for the most high-profile clients in the industry. As an ESOP (employee-owned) company, Shawmut has created a culture of ownership, proactive solution-making, and forward thinking. Eighty percent of its business comes from repeat clients, proving there is a strong focus on building lasting partnerships. Shawmut’s unique business model allows project teams to better service clients by focusing their specialized expertise within one of the following areas: Academic, Tenant Interiors, Cultural & Historic, Healthcare & Life Sciences, Hotel, Luxury Homes, Restaurant, Retail, and Sports Venues. Shawmut has offices located in Boston, Providence, New York, Miami, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Irvine.