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Report By Physicists Affirms Stability of Science Building


The engineers responsible for Harvard's massive cement Undergraduate Science Center have consulted two University physics professors about the structural stability of the new complex.

John W. Hutchinson, McKay Professor of Applied Mechanics, and Bernard Budiansky, McKay Professor of Structural Mechanics, have collaborated with Harvard engineers to study the support systems of the new structure.

Construction for the new center uses pre-cast cement columns and wall segments that are shipped in and assembled on the spot. This type of construction distinguishes the Center from construction of most concrete buildings, in which cement is poured on the spot.

Incredibly Cautious

The uniqueness of the Science Center's construction prompted the consultation with University experts. "It is one of the largest buildings of its type," Hutchinson said yesterday. "The Harvard engineers on the project are just incredibly cautious. They want to make sure to cover all their bets."

Budiansky said that he and Hutchinson were asked to consider "whether the amount of epoxy they were using to hold the segments together was sufficient." He added that both he and Hutchinson agreed the building was sound.

Student projects in Hutchinson's Applied Physics 14 course also have considered the Science Center's structural soundness.

William J. Parna '75, one of the students who investigated the construction of the Center, said yesterday that Hutchinson asked whether any of the Applied Physics 14 students would like to duplicate a study made by Harvard engineers to test the soundness of the building's structure.

"As far as our studies are concerned, the building is as solid as a rock," Parna said. "It can hold up two times the weight it was intended to, if not more."

Hutchinson said that the projects were of "a purely academic nature" and that there was no foundation to rumors that the building is structurally unsound. He added that, in his opinion, the building is "incredibly sound."

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