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Suffolk University in Boston - 20 Somerset Street
Boston, MA

The Suffolk University is shifting its campus from its Beacon Hill base to Boston’s vibrant downtown. Students can now enjoy Suffolk’s newest campus building - 20 Somerset Street. The new building has 10 floors (two of which are below street level) and it features classrooms that encourage collaborative learning and use the most cutting-edge educational technologies. This 110,000 square foot building will house Suffolk University’s physics, chemistry and biology departments as well as the communications and journalism department.

The architect, HLZ Architects, chose precast concrete for this project because the construction of the façade was fast and the overall cost was low compared to other building materials. The 20 Somerset Street building was built by Suffolk Construction Co. and it will seek LEED Silver certification.

BPDL (Béton préfabriqué du Lac) supplied a total of 144 panels (23,345 sf.).  Panels were 4 feet, 6 feet, 8 feet and 10 feet wide by 14, 25 and 30 feet tall. The maximum panel weight was 24,000 lbs. Panels were 7 inches thick at the perimeter and tapered to 5 inches thick flat spot creating a trapezoid recess.


The top horizontal section and one vertical side had a 1½ inch depp sawtooth ribbing.  Panels are 100% made of white cement with white and gray aggregates and the texture is a medium sandblast finish.  BPDL had to fabricate 9 different production forms to produce the various panel sizes used for this project.

A mobile crane was used to trip the panels into the vertical position off of the delivery truck.  Then the tower crane leads were attached to the panel to erect the panels onto the building. The company Daniel Marr and Sons from Boston, MA was contracted to erect the panels. The erection phase was approximately 25 days and it was smooth process with no particular problems encountered. 

Architectural precast cladding was the ideal choice for the Suffolk University new 20 Somerset Street Building. The precast concrete cladding natural and neutral colors, with the darker accents was chosen to evoke other heritage limestone buildings on campus. The material gave the project a sense of mass and presence within the busy campus and urban context, while being sensitive to the colour and material palette of the neighbouring historic buildings.

HLZ Architects
Suffolk Construction Co.
Precast Supplier:
BPDL - division PSC Precast Specialties Corp.
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