skip navigation nih record
Vol. LXIV, No. 19
September 14, 2012
cover

next story


Behind the ‘Curtain Wall’
Porter II Construction Pressing Toward Finish Line

On the front page...

Porter II construction is proceeding apace, both inside and out.

Porter II construction is proceeding apace, both inside and out.

Casual onlookers will no longer be able to view new developments in the biggest construction project on campus. That’s because the second phase of Bldg. 35 (a.k.a. Porter Neuroscience Research Center II) is now behind its “curtain wall,” otherwise known in construction lingo as the envelope or closing.

“Most of the construction activities are now happening within the exterior walls of the building, and for the most part, can’t be seen from outside,” said Frank Kutlak, PNRC II project officer/architect, Office of Research Facilities.

There are five major phases of construction: excavation, structural systems, closing or envelope, mechanical/electrical/plumbing (MEP) systems and finishes, he explained. Porter II is now deep into its MEP systems phase, during which the building’s utility, communications, security and elevator systems are being installed and tested.

Continued...

“Tracking MEP installation and commissioning,” he said, “the project is beginning the final construction phase before occupancy—the installation of the finishes: walls, ceilings, doors, hardware, lab benches and casework.”

The photos accompanying this article offer a peek inside the work in progress.

The new west satellite substation (behind fence) will supply electrical energy to the Porter Neuroscience Research Center and other buildings in its vicinity. Willett emphasized the long time frames required in getting reliable data about cancer, a disease that takes years to develop.

The new west satellite substation (behind fence) will supply electrical energy to the Porter Neuroscience Research Center and other buildings in its vicinity.

Early casework in PNRC II

New developments since the last status report:

  • The central atrium that joins the existing Bldg. 35 with PNRC II now has a 4-story scaffold to provide a working platform known as the “dance floor.” It allows workers to install the atrium ceilings and upper walls. The atrium will be finished in stages from the top down by lowering the scaffold.

  • Kutlak estimates reaching occupancy by late fall 2013 to spring 2014. Currently, the logistics team is working with the ICs that will occupy the building to start the activation phase, which involves planning, scheduling, procurement of new furniture and scientific equipment and the moving of existing labs and staff into the new building, he said.
This 30-foot deep trench will accommodate the building’s new steam line. These two tanks will handle water used in research

This 30-foot deep trench will accommodate the building’s new steam line.

These two tanks will handle water used in research.

Photos: Frank Kutlak, Carla Garnett

    This stage will be more complex, Kutlak explained, because for the first time on NIH’s campus, labs and research projects will be organized in “pods or clusters defined by the studies being conducted, instead of by institute or center…We’ve done this to some degree before in a small way—Porter Phase I and Bldg. 50, for example—but this is the first time we’ve done it on such a large scale wherein the entire building will be organized that way.”

    Much of the floor plan inside PNRC II has already been implemented on several floors. Above, Frank Kutlak, project officer, gives a tour of progress.

    Much of the floor plan inside PNRC II has already been implemented on several floors. Above, Frank Kutlak, project officer, gives a tour of progress.

  • The first priority in scheduling the moves will be to evacuate 5 Research Court and other leased lab facilities, Kutlak said.


  • A ninth IC has been added to the list of future occupants. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is now slated to join NINDS, NIMH, NIDCD, NICHD, NIDCR, NEI, NIA and NIBIB in the new building.


  • A small staff from Events Management will also work in Porter II, as a 200-seat tech-savvy conference center divisible into four seminar rooms will be located on the new building’s ground floor.


  • The vivarium will more than double its current size. A delicate dance of precision timing and demolition will have to occur during the occupancy phase, as the vivarium already in use in Porter I will not be shut down for the expansion, which now shares its wall. “We’ll have to put up a temporary wall before we take down what’s there now,” Kutlak said. “Then, we’ll take down the temporary wall, so that the vivarium will be one large united area.”
  • Foreground, top right) are the beams already installe

    Back to the future. New versions of the old radiators—called chilled beams—will cool Porter II. Above (foreground, top right) are the beams already installed; below, an up-close view.

    an up-close view


  • The building’s heating/cooling system could be described as “back to the future.” “Do you remember those old radiators that used to heat houses back in the day?” Kutlak asked. “Well, we’ve installed these new versions of them known as chilled beams that are based on the same concept. Because water is a much more efficient carrier of energy than air, we will be cooling the building by running chilled water through these chilled beams and will greatly reduce the amount of forced air. The concept was developed in Europe and is being adopted more and more in the U.S.”

    In addition, PNRC II “will use solar panels and ground source heat pumps, thus recovering energy from the Sun and Earth in order to reduce both energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions,” explained Dan Wheeland, ORF director. “The end product will be one of the most—if not the most—energy-efficient biomedical research laboratories ever constructed.”


  • A related construction project going on near Bldg. 35 that passersby can see is the west satellite substation, a new electrical energy substation that will serve the Porter Neuroscience Research Center complex as well as several other lab buildings in the vicinity. That project, located on South Dr. next to Bldg. 37, is scheduled to be completed in spring 2013.

Also, shuttle bus riders may have noticed a rough patch of roadway recently along Convent Dr., between South and Lincoln Drives. That’s because of a new steam pipeline being constructed under that piece of road. Crews excavated a trench about 30 feet deep under several existing major utilities to accommodate the new steam line that will serve PNRC II. Flag crews helped shuttle buses navigate the re-patched road during the height of the dig.

When finished, PNRC II—which was made possible by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds in 2009—will complete the Porter Neuroscience Research Center.

 

Porter II To House World’s Strongest MRI
Behold the Future Home of the Mega Magnet

In the depths of Porter II’s basement, a giant metal-walled tomb (shown at right, top) has been erected. To the untrained eye, it looks like a rusty old room—dark, a bit spooky and…empty. But in fact, the room will house the world’s strongest research magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) device, according to PNRC II Project Officer Frank Kutlak.

“There’s about 365 tons of steel in that shielding box,” he explains. “The walls are up to 14 inches thick. This is a pretty unique feature.

”Someday soon the 20-by-30-foot chamber will contain a 30-ton 18-Tesla animal MRI device, which is about 300,000 times stronger than Earth’s magnetic field. The PNRC II design includes a special shaft (r, bottom) to permit the magnet to be lowered into the basement.

In addition, a 9-Tesla magnet will be also located in the MRI suite.





In the depths of Porter II’s basement
Someday soon the 20-by-30-foot chamber will contain a 30-ton 18-Tesla animal MRI device

Gallery

back to top of page