What does it take to convert a nearly 100-year-old former military warehouse into a state-of-the-art cancer research facility? For one, we knew the space would be focused around a cyclotron – a particle accelerator specifically for producing imaging isotopes.
Cyclotron axon. Click to enlarge and more detail.
This piece of equipment would be the heart of the facility and the focal point of our design. The shielding requirements of this piece of equipment are similar to other imaging devices like an MRI or a CT scanner, though slightly more complex. The weight, however, is entirely different. Coming in at 23 tons, the cyclotron led us to design a new reinforcing structure within the confines of the crawl space underneath the first floor of the building where the equipment would sit.
Fall 2013, construction start
Our first challenge dealt with the logistics of bringing in new steel. We had to remove an existing service elevator and its rails, remove two sections of existing concrete beams, insert ten new 30” deep beams into a crawl space with a head clearance of about 48” and construct a concrete containment area directly beneath the cyclotron to support its installation. Next, we inserted a new floor slab with supporting steel within the former elevator shaft, which would act as the new main entrance into the lab and the access point of delivery for the cyclotron and its water tanks. This was also accomplished directly adjacent to an active loading dock that served the building’s tenants and had to remain operational during construction.
Within the lab space itself on the first floor, we designed a concrete vault that would shield the users and fellow tenants from the low levels of radiation produced by the cyclotron. This was achieved by installing 12” thick walls of concrete extending from the existing floor slab up to the underside of the slab above. A layer of silicon steel for magnetic shielding is attached on three walls within the vault in the trajectory of the magnet. A new concrete floor slab with an integrated trench system for product transfer lines and conduits was poured on top of the existing slab. The new slab is supported by the network of steel within the crawl space.
May 2014, above ceiling steel frame, silicon steel installation
July 2014, trench liner and rebar installation, prior to concrete slab pour
The existing structure of the building with a 17’ floor-to-floor height did allow for some flexibility in the vault design, but eventually the ceilings were filled with supporting mechanical, electrical and plumbing equipment, designed for future capacity should the owner decide to expand the facility. The new steel framework above the ceiling was installed 6” below the existing floor slab within the vault, which would allow for rigging of the equipment during its installation. The framework also supports a section of 1” thick lead plates above the cyclotron, and the attachment of additional silicon steel for magnetic shielding.
The facility celebrated its official opening earlier this month.
October 2014, delivery of cyclotron
June 2015, grand opening
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Molecular Cancer Imaging Facility
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Celebrates New Facility
Installing a Heavyweight
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Groundbreaking