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Dacon Corporation has completed the 135,000 SF New England facility for Edwards Vacuum, a designer and manufacturer of advanced technology parts used in the semiconductor, power, renewable energy, scientific R&D markets, analytical instrument manufacturers, chemical and food processing industries.  Their product portfolio entails parts for vacuum and abatement; this location is dedicated to cryopump manufacturing for semiconductor and technical industries.

The design of this 2-story LEED facility at 20 Creek Brook Drive in Haverhill centers on 4 functional domains – manufacturing, innovation labs, offices and warehousing, “The objective was to create a state-of-the-art, innovation and solutions center that improved the overall efficiency of assembly, research & development, new product introductions and related operations activities,” said John O’Sullivan, VP of Operations for Edwards Vacuum.  Located on a 10-acre site at Creek Brook Drive in Haverhill, MA, the design is focused on creating physical connections – internally amongst departments and externally with the environment. 

The Design Aesthetic

Historically, Haverhill’s economic lineage stemmed from hat, shoe and comb manufacturing, peaking in the 1920’s.  While referencing a mill aesthetic was initially planned, the client felt it conflicted with their modern manufacturing approach. Thus the design directive transitioned to inferences of surrounding woodlands and mill elements – maple ceilings, exposed structures, and plans for representational graphics of manufacturing past.  To invoke culture, transparency was a foremost consideration throughout the facility.  As a welcoming focal point, sunlight enters through a 2-story curtain wall at the lobby.  Illuminated by linear recessed light fixtures, the lobby is transversed by a second-floor bridge joining the atrium with executive offices. It was decided that functional areas were not to be isolated, thus overlooking the production floor is an observation lookout area educating visitors on Edwards’ business process.  Office areas likewise have manufacturing vistas via second-story singular windows.  The resulting effect is overall organizational continuity between managerial, research and production functions. 

As an asset in facility longevity, the ability to create flexible solutions was foremost in the office and production area layouts.  Furniture configuration and floor cores were positioned for mobility – the entire second floor can be easily refitted for cubicles without invasive drilling for electrical wiring.  To modify the production floor, utility fences were customized by trade function with powerlines suspended from the ceiling.  Amenity areas, a fitness room, multi-function cubes and access to walking trails with viewing stations create areas for innovation, camaraderie, and a chance to recharge.  Forsaking on-trend colors for timeless appeal, brand guidelines denoted color and material selection with bright accents that complement Edwards’ palette.  Accent walls punctuate the facility in Edwards’ red.  

Special Provisions

Atlas Copco, Edwards’ parent company, requires noncombustible materials in facility construction.  Thus in lieu of polystyrene insulation, Metl-Span’s ThermalSafe, a mineral wool insulation, was implemented.  An extra thickness of 5 inches in the walls and 8 inches for the roof was necessary to meet Atlas Copco’s fire rating requirement.  A substantial environmental challenge was the presence of excess water on the site.  Perched water and run off from properties above, combined with record autumn rainfall, necessitated 14 2-inch pumps circumventing the foundation which operated 24 hours a day during the excavation and pouring of foundations.  Excess water remained throughout the first 9 months of construction, therefore these pumps operated for 75% of the project.  Additionally, an under-slab drainage system laid in 10 inches of crushed stone was positioned below an 8 inch concrete slab on grade along with a perimeter foundation drain on the exterior of the building.  Cultec roof drains were tied into stormwater infiltration systems under the parking lot.  Sequencing the layers of the building was challenging as 32 miles of pvc piping were run under the interior slab for utilities.

Edwards is committed to environmental stewardship.  In consideration of renewable energies, some of the location’s LEED initiatives include provisions for a future solar setup, reduced water usage, high efficiency cooling systems, EV parking / charging stations and dark sky compliant lighting.  The creative use of design build, as well as sensitive considerations for interaction between humans and the environment, resulted in winning first place for vertical construction in the 2023 Design-Build Institute of America Awards.

Civic Commitment

To mark the event, a $10,000 digital arts program was donated by Edwards and Dacon’s philanthropy (Designed with Dignity) to the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Haverhill (BGC).  The new Edwards Digital Arts Studio is centered on engaging teens while developing technical skills and encouraging career aspirations. The program’s goal is to foster camaraderie and character building.  It inspires talent, stimulating creative and analytical capabilities, while introducing Edwards Vacuum to the community.  The club currently has 180 teen members.  Using BGC’s current facility, the program will be led by a graphic design educator, with teens supplied with MacBooks, drawing implements and bean bag furniture to create a casual learning space of warmth and inclusion “We are grateful to Dacon and Edwards for playing a pivotal role in our efforts to provide quality programs that focus on future career interest opportunities. This program will complement our current STEAM program offering and bolster our teen recruitment efforts,” comments Javier Bristol, Executive Director, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Haverhill.  Enrollment is on a rotational basis in tandem with curriculum goals and capacity.  Notes Congresswoman Lori Trahan, “I am thrilled to welcome Edwards Vacuum to the Third District. I’m confident that their commitment to community and environmental stewardship will make them an excellent addition to our district. Edwards is not only expanding our technical and manufacturing sector, but they have proved themselves to be excellent community partners with organizations like the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Haverhill where they already helped strengthen the STEM literacy and digital skills of our students.”