Yale Office of Public Affairs

Members of the Yale community celebrated the University’s progress on the construction of the new Yale Science Building on Wednesday afternoon, signing their names onto the structure’s final 3,000-pound beam, which will be hoisted into place later this month.

The topping-off event, the first in Yale’s history, marked both a traditional milestone in the construction of the facility and a symbolic milestone for the sciences at Yale. The ceremony ran was attended by researchers, students, administrators and construction workers. At the event, University President Peter Salovey and Anna Pyle, a molecular, cellular and developmental biology professor who chairs the building planning committee, reflected on the future of science at Yale and thanked the people whose efforts have contributed to making the building a reality.

“By signing this beam, we are symbolizing our unity and collaboration in the effort to build on our strengths in the sciences and engineering … and to achieve great and new heights in research and innovation,” Salovey said.

Wesley Wright, a senior associate at Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects who helped design the building, told the News that more than 100 on-site construction workers have been busy erecting the steel frame of the building since the beginning of the school year. The placement of the final beam symbolizes the culmination of this first step of the construction process.

University spokeswoman Karen Peart said workers are now pouring concrete onto each floor and will soon assemble the internal mechanical systems. In a couple of months, the curtainwall — the prefabricated metal and glass facade of the building — will be installed.

“I want Yale to be pre-eminent in the sciences and engineering,” Salovey told the News. “This is a building that is going to get us there. It’s a new day on Science Hill.”

The seven-story, 240,000-square-foot building, which will replace the old J.W. Gibbs Laboratory, will house the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and some members of the Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and Physics departments. The facility will feature cutting-edge technology, including specialized vibration-free labs for electron microscopy in the basement and a greenhouse for innovative ecological research on the top floor.

The project is progressing as planned and is slated for completion in fall 2019.

“This project started as an effort to modernize our infrastructure in the basic biological sciences, but it grew into something so much more,” Pyle said during her speech. “It became an effort to build interdisciplinary programs with many different departments and to create public spaces where scholars of all ages and all disciplines can congregate and collaborate.”

Peart predicted that the building will be used by science majors and non-mjors alike. Students across the University will be able to enjoy talks in the lecture hall, grab a snack from the new cafe and collaborate on assignments in the new pavilion.

A triceratops head from the Peabody Museum of Natural History will welcome students into the building’s 500-seat lecture hall.

Lorenzo Arvanitis | lorenzo.arvanitis@yale.edu