Skip to Content

University of Massachusetts Boston
Integrated Sciences Complex

The ISC integrates all of the departments involved in laboratory research in one flexible, interdisciplinary building. With its prominent location and eye-catching glass-enclosed atrium, this campus beacon symbolizes the importance of science at UMass Boston.

  • Location



    Practice area



Striking new architectural identity signals future growth on campus

The ISC was designed to make a strong statement of intent for UMass Boston, symbolizing the University’s investment in science teaching and research. Beautifully lit and invitingly transparent, the ISC commands attention from across the harbor and represents a new design direction for the development of the UMass Boston campus.

The Complex creates a new “front yard”-an outdoor extension of the building that embraces its harbor context.
A Hub at the heart of the building is defined by a crystalline glass facade.
Strategic siting embraces the cove and welcomes students and visitors as they arrive to the peninsula.
The ISC links to Quinn Hall via a second-floor bridge, extending UMass Boston’s network of interconnecting buildings, but with a new architectural vocabulary.

Programmed for affinity-based, cross-disciplinary collaboration

In a traditional lab building, each department has a floor or wing of its own, which can lead to inflexibility and departmental silos. At the ISC, we collaborated with faculty and administrators to create a design which prioritizes natural affinities between departments based on pedagogy, shared research inquiry, shared lab equipment, and infrastructure.

Departments are distributed across multiple floors, grouping researchers by affinities with departmental counterparts. The open plan labs facilitate space and equipment sharing, encourage interdisciplinary research and collegiality, and accommodate changes in research focus.

The Complex brings together laboratory research from across the university with dynamic teaching labs and state-of-the-art wet and dry research labs.

Thriving research environment ignites a new culture of interaction and collaboration

The design team worked intensively with the client to foster maximum interaction opportunities among building occupants and to encourage chance meetings. At the heart of the building, an open, light-filled, five-story “Hub” comprises a complex arrangement of interconnected volumes contained within a crystalline glass curtainwall enclosure. Alternating balcony orientations and sizes help create a complex spatial variety that encourages interaction at a multitude of scales.

The Hub can host large campus gatherings for up to 500 people, while also accommodating intimate collaboration spaces with moveable seating and writing surfaces.

This new facility is a great example of what we can accomplish together when we have a strategic vision of investing in innovation, education, and infrastructure.
Deval PatrickFormer Massachusetts Governor
The Hub quickly became students’ new favorite campus spot for study and socializing.

New precedent for sustainable design

The design includes a variety of measures that lower energy and resource use and minimize the building’s impact on its shoreline environment. Our approach enhances daylight while mitigating solar heat gain through a series of passive strategies, such as a custom GFRG light shelf that bounces natural light onto lab benches. Occupancy daylight sensors also minimize energy use through fixture-by-fixture controllability.

A custom light shelf shades write-up desks and bounces light deep into the building interior, illuminating lab benches with natural light.
Sunlight filters through low-E coated glass with an exceptional daylight transmittance coefficient.
Lights are managed by a networked, digital system that enables fixture-by-fixture controllability.

Sensible integration of new construction with the landscape

Our landscape goal was to embrace the natural surroundings of the harbor and integrate the building’s educational mission with a set of newly designed outdoor spaces. The project restores a former brownfield to a natural harbor island habitat, regenerating the local ecosystem. The creation of a “meadow” and accompanying sand dunes cultivate low-maintenance native plant species which thrive on minimal irrigation, further conserving water resources.

Project impact
  • 30%

    Energy Use Intensity (EUI) below baseline

  • 5+

    Academic departments housed in one facility, including biology, chemistry, physics, psychology, and the School for the Environment

This is our gift to the future.
J. Keith MotleyChancellor

For more information about this project:

Share this project:

Project Team


Ambient Air Technologies, LLC

Briggs Engineering & Testing

Browne & Rowe

CSA Group

GEI Consultants

Hecht Horton Partners

Jensen Hughes

Kalin Associates

Nitsch Engineering

Page/SST Planners

RSE Associates

Rickes Associates

Ripman Lighting COnsultants

Roll Barresi & Associates

Rosenberg Gardner Design

Shen Milsom & Wilke, LLC

Soden Sustainability

Syska Hennessy Group



Walsh Brothers

Weston & Sampson Engineers


Robert Benson

Back to top