Mass State Lab - HVAC Improvements


The Massachusetts State Public Health Laboratory is an eight-story concrete building on the UMass Medical School - Jamaica Plain Campus, which handles several time-sensitive and mission-critical biological and chemical testing functions for the State. 

When the facility required an emergency HVAC improvement project, W.T. Rich was contracted by DCAMM. The project consisted of the complete replacement of the facility’s chiller plant including three new 600-ton chillers, two 600-ton cooling towers, and associated mechanical pumps and VFD’s. The work included replacing three 65,000 CFM supply fans and replacing 115 VAV boxes serving highly sensitive laboratory operations.  The work also included the installation of two new roof-top exhaust air handling units, plus a new temperature control building management system.


Project Information

Location: Jamaica Plain, MA

Completion: 2011

Contract Value: $10 million

Size: $90,000 SF

Type: Renovation (Occupied)

Owner: Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance

Designer: Kling Stubbins, Cambridge, MA

Engineers: RDK Engineers, Andover, MA 

Delivery Method: CM-at-Risk (M.G.L. Chapter 149A) Emergency Procurement


The facility was occupied and fully operational throughout the project duration. Work in any BSL-3 and BSL-4 designated laboratories required additional personal protective equipment for access, as well as construction personnel requiring facility escorts for access to sensitive areas. This required detailed construction planning and coordination with the owner and designated facility representatives.

W.T. Rich was obligated to provide the least amount of disruption to the active facility. Some of these requirements included maintaining negative air pressure throughout the buildings at all times, providing limited downtime to labs affected by VAV replacement, and adhering to strict requirements for shutdowns to supply air or steam boilers.

One crucial laboratory was not allowed to be down at all, requiring W.T. Rich to develop and implement a plan that allowed the work to proceed while keeping the laboratory online.

In parallel with our project, DCAMM performed a second project at the site – an emergency electrical upgrade project, which also required several planned power shutdowns. W.T. Rich remained vigilant in working with DCAMM, facility representatives and contacts from the electrical upgrade project to ensure that all work was scheduled and conducted in a manner that successfully provided the least amount of disruption to the operations of the facility. 



Despite the complexity of the project, W.T. Rich distinguished its performance on this critical project.  With every challenge or issue that arose, W.T. Rich led the way to find pragmatic, cost-effective and innovative solutions to these challenges.  Our firm assumed a leadership role every step of the way, driving the process with a great sense of urgency and conviction.  Because of the great contribution by all team members, the project achieved on-time completion for each and every project milestone and deadline.

“W.T. Rich was hired as DCAMM’s Construction Manager for an emergency HVAC improvements project at the Massachusetts State Laboratory. This project was on an extremely tight schedule and faced an array of technical, logistical and existing condition challenges.  W.T. Rich performed extremely well throughout the project, exceeding my highest expectations. The entire W.T. Rich team consistently demonstrated the depth of their construction knowledge and was very proactive in ensuring that all critical path items stayed on track.  W.T. Rich is a very professional group that puts their clients’ needs first.”  

Paul Ford, Project Manager
Division of Capital Asset Management & Maintenance
Mass State Laboratory Emergency HVAC Project