Construction Update 04/26/2021

Heart-Lung Transplant Nearly Complete

The Mathews wing continues to be closed to all occupants through April 30, so that the old exhaust system can be replaced with a new exhaust system that uses fans in the new tower. Air handlers in the sub-basement supply air to Mathews. Formerly this air was exhausted through ducts in the penthouse above the sixth floor and a plenum that led to the Daniels wing. This old exhaust system is being replaced by ductwork that leads to the new exhaust plenum surrounding the Daniels rooftop. That plenum routes air to exhaust fans at the top of the new tower, which blows air vertically out of the tower.

Left: Mathews and Daniels exhaust plenums as seen from across Johnson St. Right: From Shain tower both exhaust plenums and the tower exhaust stacks can be seen.
Removing the exhaust system that formerly served Mathews and installing new ductwork has required workers to operate within the exhaust system, which they cannot do safely unless all hoods are shut down. The Mathews wing has been closed because, during the shutdown, the building has reduced supply of fresh air and no exhaust from fume hoods. Ducts leading to the rooftop have been closed and air supplied to the Mathews wing is escaping through windows in laboratories, which have been opened by a small amount.

Balancing the air supply with the exhaust rate is an important requirement for buildings such as ours. If the air supply exceeds the exhaust rate, pressure increases inside the building, making it difficult to close exterior doors. If the exhaust rate exceeds the supply rate, the opposite happens: a partial vacuum inside the building makes it nearly impossible to open exterior doors. (In the past we have had situations like this when lack of air balance caused doors to slam shut in the Daniels wing.)

To ensure that doors can be opened in case of partial loss of air supply to Mathews, new venturi valves are being installed in the exhaust ducts in the Mathews penthouse. These valves are designed to respond to reduced air supply and cut off exhaust proportionally, thus automatically maintaining air balance and allowing exterior doors to be opened safely. The final step in the Mathews shutdown is to test this automatic system for maintaining air balance.

New ductwork and venturi valves (top left and middle right) have been installed in the Mathews penthouse.

The NMR facility and the research stockroom remain closed. There is limited accessibility to the liquid-nitrogen facility. Room 1245 is open only during business hours (8 am – 4 pm). The solvent-storage room, gas cylinder room, and loading dock are accessible only during business hours and only by prior arrangement with Aaron. Incoming packages are being delivered to the office of each group PI.

Workers supported by the crane modify the ventilation system along the Daniels mezzanine above the 9th floor.

Stay away from the area around the loading dock because a crane has been installed there to lift workers and equipment for the exhaust-system work to the rooftops of Mathews and Daniels. There is a lot of overhead work directly above the loading dock.

Occupants of the Shain wing will find ice, and dry ice at the 5th-floor equipment corridor, Shain tower (outside Rm. 5143).

Occupants of the Daniels wing must enter through basement entrances along Johnson St. (Do not enter at Shain tower and cross through Mathews.) Fire doors at Mathews / Daniels elevator lobbies are closed. Do not use the Mathews stair towers (except in emergency). Do not enter the Mathews wing, which is a construction zone. Ice and dry ice are available in Rm. 2369. Those with a specific purpose at the loading dock or nitrogen fill room can enter only during business hours.

Occupants of the Mathews wing should not enter because Mathews is a construction zone. This information supersedes any approvals regarding building access that you may request or receive via

The result of the Mathews shutdown will be a much improved and much more reliable exhaust system for fume hoods in the Mathews wing—short-term pain but long-term gain!

Daniels Three-day Exhaust Interruptions

Beginning May 17 and extending into July there will be many three-day exhaust shutdowns in small portions of floors 3-9 of the Daniels wing. These shutdowns are necessary to allow workers to connect the fume-hood exhaust to the new plenum that surrounds the Daniels rooftop. The facilities committee will notify those affected by each shutdown well in advance.

Graphic Schedule of Upcoming Events

Many different construction activities are simultaneously affecting our building complex. We summarize them graphically below.

construction activities impacting existing buildings

We thank Jim Maynard for a photo used in this newsletter issue.

This information is up to date as of Monday morning. Email bulletins will be provided as needed.

John Moore and Bob McMahon