Campus Alert: Find the latest UMMS campus news and resources at

Search Close Search


First Road garage demolition begins April 12

UMass Medical School Communications

April 12, 2021

Demolition, drilling, digging and blasting are all on tap for the spring and summer on the UMass Medical School main campus in Worcester in preparation for the construction of the new education and research building.

Demolition of the section of the First Road garage outlined in red begins on April 12 and will continue through the end of May.
The rest of the garage will remain open throughout the project.

“This will be an intense phase of activity and safety is our top priority,” said John Baker, associate vice chancellor for facilities management. “There will be noise, dust and more truck traffic. We are monitoring it all closely, and we ask for everyone’s patience and understanding when dealing with the impact.”

The new building will be situated between the Albert Sherman Center and the Lazare Research Building on land occupied by a significant portion of the First Road garage. Demolition of one section of the garage begins on April 12 and will continue through the end of May. The rest of the garage will remain open throughout the project.

Demolition will begin on the east side, facing the Campus Green. Three excavators, two fitted with hydraulic claws and one with cutting jaws, will work together to remove sections of steel and concrete. The material will be lowered to the ground, cut into smaller pieces, then loaded onto tractor trailer trucks for removal.

An estimated 24 truckloads of debris will be hauled off site daily to the contractor’s yard for processing. The concrete will be crushed and reused for roadbed aggregate and other uses. The steel will be separated from the concrete and recycled to make new steel.

During the demolition process, there will be periodic closures of the covered walkways on either side of the garage when work is occurring in those areas. Pedestrian detours will be marked with temporary signage.

“We ask people to pay close attention to the signs and to the directions of safety personnel, when walking on campus near the perimeter of the site,” Baker said.

A guardrail system has been installed in the portion of the garage that will remain operational to prevent vehicles from parking near the demolition zone. The guardrails are permanent and run along what will become the new east wall of the garage, post demolition.

When the garage demolition is completed, work will shift to digging the 38-foot-deep foundation space for the new building. A key element will be the construction of a retaining wall to stabilize the perimeter as workers dig deep. Approximately 85 steel piles, set nine feet apart, will be drilled into the soil and anchored in the bedrock. Large wooden beams will be installed horizontally between the steel piles to form the wall.

Building the retaining wall and excavating the soil will be done at the same time. As the excavation crew digs away soil, more wood beams will be added between the steel piles, extending the wall to protect the workers.

Excavation will take several months and will eventually require blasting of the bedrock deep in the site. Blasting is scheduled to begin in early July. If all goes according to plan, the site will be ready for crews to begin pouring concrete for the building’s foundation in December.

Several measures will limit the impact of the demolition and excavation work, including air quality monitoring and regular spraying of water on the site to reduce dust. A tire washing station will be placed near the construction gate to remove debris from trucks leaving the site. Vibration monitors installed in the surrounding buildings have been measuring baseline vibration for several months. Any significant increase in vibration caused by construction will be evaluated and activity adjusted.

The new nine-story, 350,000 square-foot building will have research space for a projected 77 principal investigators and other educational uses. It is slated to open late in 2023. For more information on the project visit