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Case Study - NCI Advanced Technology Research Facility, Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research

About this Project

Morgan-Keller was selected to construct the core and shell for the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Advanced Technology Research Facility at Riverside Research Park in Frederick, MD.  This project involved new construction of a state-of-the-art research facility, which includes manufacturing, lab space, and an administration building. The facility is comprised of five individual tilt-up concrete structures connected via an atrium to create a three-story building on a 32-acre site.  The composite slab structure is graced with two separate three-story-high atria, which offer a view of the courtyards between the laboratory wings through two separate sections of full height curtain wall.  Extra steel was required to frame and support both the atria and the curtain walls.

The Challenge

The new 330,000 SF facility would consolidate staff and operations, which had been scattered among more than 30 separate buildings on the NCI’s campus of the Frederick National Lab, located within the perimeter of Fort Detrick. About 250 employees would move into the new facility when it opened with up to an additional 200 hires anticipated over the next five years. The site also needed to accommodate future growth of up to
800,000 square feet.

The goal of the facility was to support the National Cancer Institute’s Advanced Technology Partnerships Initiative, which called for enhanced collaboration among government, academia, life sciences
companies, and non-profit research organizations. Therefore, the facility required the integration of various users and spaces including a development and manufacturing facility, research and development
laboratories, partnership programs, administrative offices, and an advanced computing center. The construction schedule was aggressive with construction to be completed in 16 months.

The Solution

Given the speed of construction required and the objectives of the facility, tilt-up concrete construction provided the best solution for this project.  Tilt-up construction is a proven economical method for building offices, warehouses, retail centers, and laboratories with speed and efficiency.  The building’s walls were poured directly at the jobsite in large slabs of concrete called “tilt-up panels.”  These panels were then raised into position with a large crane to form the exterior walls.

Morgan-Keller erected five individual tilt-up concrete structures, which were connected via a common atrium to create a three-story building on a 32-acre site.  This design effectively separated the various spaces needed within the facility while also allowing for accessibility.  The composite slab structure is graced with two separate three-story-high atria, which offer a view of the courtyards between the laboratory wings through two separate sections of full height curtain wall.   

Interior demands for the facility included higher spacing between floors, reinforced floor loads, and recessed areas for specialized equipment.  With tilt-up, these demands were more easily executed including the load bearing walls, which increased column spacing creating more usable space.

The Result

With an unprecedented 60" of snowfall during the construction phase, tilt-up allowed construction to continue even during numerous days of inclement weather.  The foundation, panel forming, panel tilting, and structural steel erection stages of the project took place during one of the snowiest winters on record (2009/2010).

Morgan-Keller delivered this project 32 calendar days prior to the contract completion date.  The new facility, which opened its doors in the summer of 2012, will enable scientists to more rapidly develop a new generation of highly targeted treatments for Cancer and AIDS patients.  

Morgan-Keller has also received numerous awards for this project including a CON/STEEL Alliance Building of the Year Award for Architectural Appeal.  Morgan-Keller is a member of the CONSTEEL Alliance, a network of contractors that delivers high quality tilt-up construction using CON/STEEL’s unique and proven design and construction methods.

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