Archive for March, 2020

Confidential – CAR-T R&D Laboratory

Cyma Builders and Construction Managers was retained by a confidential client to construct a new 12,000 SF R&D laboratory. The lab was designed to be in compliance with current BSL 2 and BSL 2+ biosafety levels to support current and future cell therapy initiatives.

              As a part of the overall project, the team was tasked with demolishing an existing production space. This production space was mothballed in the early 2000’s and had not been used since. The demolition included the removal of full height (28’+) CMU partitions that were adjacent to active operations at the facility as well as the existing slab and production mezzanine. After coordinating with the facility, Cyma was able to develop a strategy that allow these areas to stay in operation during the demolition phase while still ensuring the work could proceed on schedule. This was done by transferring the heavy demolition to nights while ensuring that all active areas were vacated before the night shift started. As the demolition progressed, it was discovered that many critical utilities to the facility had been installed in the space since it had been decommissioned. Almost all of these utilities were undocumented and required an extensive survey by the construction team to identify. Cyma was able to perform this survey and coordinate shutdowns to relocate the utilities with minimal impact to the overall project schedule.

                After the existing utility issue was addressed, it was discovered that there were a number of existing conditions in the field that would cause a number of structural concerns if the demolition was carried out as per the drawings. Specifically, the existing production mezzanine that was being demolished was actually integral to a large, freestanding CMU wall that was not scheduled to be demolished. The structural elements that were being demolished were part of the structure needed to keep this wall in place. The construction team quickly identified this issue and, with design team assistance, was able to modify the demolition plan to allow part of this mezzanine to remain in place. This change allowed the wall to remain which allowed a critical active area at the facility to remain in service.

                Once the demolition was completed, Cyma proceeded to the underground phase of the project. The underground phase involved the installation of new footings, infill of an existing MEP courtyard to bring it up to the finished floor elevation, and the installation of new underground process waste drainage system. The installation of the footings required two substantial excavations to get to the depth required, which was achieved safely and without incident. The new underground process waste drainage consisted of new Asahi double wall piping for all of the new work, and the installation of an FRP reinforced cure in place (CIP) epoxy liner for all existing piping. The pipe lining installation was an extremely difficult task that required surgical, deep excavations in the existing building and outside of the main lobby to perform properly. Unfortunately, it was discovered during the installation that the as-builts that were made available to the project were very inaccurate and not representative of the actual existing pipe routing. Cyma was able to work with their subcontractor to provide alternate options to allow the work to continue despite these hurdles.  

                After the pipe lining was completed and the new piping was integrated into the process waste system, Cyma proceeded to the structural phase of the project. This involved the construction of a new steel frame to support a new second floor shell space that was being provided as part of the project. The purpose of the shell space was to support a future office fit out and provide mechanical & electrical support spaces for the main project. The structural phase was completed without incident and on schedule, and involved the use of a spyder crane so the structure could be erected safely within the existing building envelope. Once the structure was completed, Cyma proceed to install a new concrete slab on the ground floor as well as on the new second floor. Due to the square footage of floor being installed, the concrete subcontractors advised that they would have to use gas powered equipment indoors during the concrete pour. After coordinating with the subcontractor, Cyma deployed an extensive exhaust system consisting of over 28 exhaust fans to ensure that the exhaust fumes were quickly removed from the space and did not migrate to other areas of the plant. The team actively monitored carbon monoxide inside and outside of the work areas throughout both concrete pours to confirm the solution deployed was having the desired effect.

                Now that the structure was complete, the team moved into the fit out phase of the project. The BSL2+ portion of the new labs included a new drywall ceiling as part of it’s final finishes. The client also advised that they wanted to minimize or eliminate the use of any access panels in this space due to concerns with containment in the lab during normal operations. Prior to the fit out phase, Cyma coordinated directly with each subcontractor to ensure that everyone was aware of  the constraints with working in the space so they would be properly prepared when the work began. The contractor’s shop drawings were designed in such a way that minimized conflicts between trades in the field and also kept critical devices close to MEP penetrations so access panels would not be necessary. Using this strategy, Cyma was able to complete the fit out in the BSL2+ area without the use of a single access panel. The BSL2 fit out was also coordinated in this manner, however it was much easier to execute since it was in a ACT ceiling.

                As the fit out progressed, the client advised that there was significant shortage of both electrical and tele data services to all equipment spaces throughout the space. This issue was discovered approximately four weeks before turnover and involved a significant rework throughout the space. Unfortunately, the rework involved was very extensive and could not be fully completed before the original turnover date. Once the problem was identified, Cyma proceeded to coordinate with it’s subcontractors to identify the critical areas that needed to be completed by the original date. Cyma successfully deployed the changes in these areas while simultaneously ensuring that work was also proceeding in the other areas. The result is that the client was able to open lab on schedule, and the remaining changes were completed approximately two weeks after the original completion date.

                There was a significant amount of new infrastructure that was installed as part of the overall project. The new HVAC equipment included the installation of a new 27,000 CFM AHU, seven exhaust fans, a Bag in / Bag Out filter housing for the exhaust stream from the labs, and a number of automated dampers and other control items. The mechanical equipment installed includes a new DI system, HVAC chiller and pumps to backup critical loads, and new gas manifolds for the new CO2 and O2 gas distribution. The electrical infrastructure included a new UPS and ATS to support the new critical lab equipment being installed throughout the space.

                It is also important to note that there were a large number of utility shutdowns throughout the project to allow for new mechanical, electrical, and plumbing utilities to be demolished or installed. Cyma was responsible for coordinating each one of these shutdowns with the owner, end users, as well as the facility’s maintenance group. All shutdowns proceeded in a controlled manner and without incident, and Cyma is happy to report that there was no unexpected shutdowns or production / research interruptions throughout the project.  

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