Construction begins on West End Irving Institute building

by Andrew Sasser | 10/18/19 2:05am

10-18-19-irving-nainabhalla

Construction on the Irving Institute recently began on the campus' West End.

by Naina Bhalla / The Dartmouth

As students walk around campus, they may notice yet another construction project underway. Construction began on the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society on Oct. 7. Expected to open at the beginning of the Fall 2021 term, the new building will be located between the Tuck School of Business and Thayer School of Engineering on Tuck Drive.  

In 2016, the College announced the creation of the Irving Institute, which intends to address issues of energy and society, prepare future generations of energy leaders and enhance understanding of the field. Gifts of $113 million, led by an $80 million donation from the Irving Oil Company, funded the enterprise, which was named in honor of energy industrialist Arthur Irving. 

According to senior project manager for construction James Pike, the new 55,000 square-foot building will house two classrooms in its basement. On the main floor, there will be a multi-use atrium space, small café and meeting rooms. The upper floor will feature two dry labs, which Irving Institute director Elizabeth Wilson said will be used for important research on energy and society.  

The building has also been designed to enhance sustainability. According to Pike, the building will make use of energy-efficient mechanical systems and natural ventilation to reduce the energy demands of the building. Pike also noted that the institute will seek a LEED platinum certification, the highest-level energy rating for energy efficiency from the U.S. Green Building Council.  

Wilson said that she hopes the building becomes a hub for discussion on energy and society. While she joked that the current building is just a “hole in the ground,” she emphasized the cross-disciplinary nature of the Irving Institute, adding that she hopes to draw upon resources from Tuck, Thayer and other departments to further the institute’s mission and research.  

“We hope the new building will become a crossroads for energy and society-related research, education and community,” Wilson said. “We want people to come together.” 

Wilson also said that though the building is currently under construction, the Irving Institute is already having a significant impact on campus. Through initiatives such as the Energy 101 lecture series, bi-weekly lunches on energy topics and Energy Immersion trips to Texas and Louisiana, Wilson hopes that the institute will continually facilitate discussion and research on campus about energy topics.  

Max Holden ’22, a leader in the Dartmouth Energy Alliance, said he hopes that the opening of the new building will excite students about the topics of energy and society. According to its website, the Energy Alliance, a student organization that allows students to “broaden their understanding of the field, engage with the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society, and connect with the energy community at Dartmouth and beyond campus,” gained recognition from the Council on Student Organizations on Oct. 16.

Holden also said that the new building will be a space for new extracurricular opportunities and student learning beyond the classroom.  

“It will be an open, creative space,” Holden said. “Hopefully, [the institute] will spark an interest in energy at an early stage for new students.”  

Pike said that the first week of construction has involved setting up site logistics and temporary fencing for the areas impacted on Tuck Mall. He projected that the roof will be completed by September 2020, with the final installation of sustainability features coming in April of 2021.  

With the ongoing construction, Wilson did note that there may be some disruption of traffic on Tuck Drive. Pike said that regular bus routes that stop at Tuck will still be able to run their normal routes. Visitors will be directed to park at a temporary location on Tuck Mall, and a new access road has also been opened off of Wheelock Street to allow access to the Channing Cox parking lot and back circle behind Thayer.