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Crews Help to Bring New Genomic Medicine Center to University of Alabama at Birmingham

Thu August 17, 2023 - Southeast Edition #17
Cindy Riley – CEG Correspondent


Because the project included demolition of existing buildings, site prep and new ground-up concrete structures, rain caused some rescheduling of work, but nothing unexpected.
(Ben Heine and Charles McKinstry photo)
Because the project included demolition of existing buildings, site prep and new ground-up concrete structures, rain caused some rescheduling of work, but nothing unexpected. (Ben Heine and Charles McKinstry photo)
Because the project included demolition of existing buildings, site prep and new ground-up concrete structures, rain caused some rescheduling of work, but nothing unexpected.
(Ben Heine and Charles McKinstry photo) UAB is overseeing a $106.5 million project that will play a key role in the Heersink School of Medicine’s long-range plan to enhance research.
(Ben Heine and Charles McKinstry photo) Construction began in August 2022 on the new Altec/Styslinger Genomic Medicine and Data Sciences Building and the Marnix E. Heersink Institute for Biomedical Innovation Conference Center.
(Ben Heine and Charles McKinstry photo) The work on site includes both new construction and renovation of the existing Lyons-Harrison Research Building.
(Charles McKinstry photo) D.H. Griffin Wrecking Company Inc. is handling the demolition work.
(Charles McKinstry photo) Construction is expected to be completed in summer 2024.
(Ben Heine and Charles McKinstry photo)

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is overseeing a $106.5 million project that will play a key role in the Heersink School of Medicine's long-range plan to enhance research.

Construction began in August 2022 on the new Altec/Styslinger Genomic Medicine and Data Sciences Building and the Marnix E. Heersink Institute for Biomedical Innovation Conference Center.

"The Altec/Styslinger Genomic Medicine and Data Sciences Building will accelerate research in genomic medicine and computational biology and is central to the overall complex of interconnected research and support facilities located at UAB's hub of basic and translational research enterprise," said Denton Lunceford, assistant vice president, UAB facilities planning, design and construction.

The 175,000-sq.-ft. facility will include space for computational research, research support, offices, administrative and scientific collaboration and meeting spaces designed to meet the needs of genomics and precision medicine investigators and their programs. The building has a total funding capacity of approximately $40 million, accommodating 80 faculty members and a total staff count of roughly 650, including those who work remotely, hybrid and on site.

The work on site includes both new construction and renovation of the existing Lyons-Harrison Research Building. The project's biggest challenge is its connection to several other important clinical and research buildings, with crews responsible for maintaining those utility services.

"Construction is going well," said Lunceford. "It's a large-scale renovation and addition to a building in the heart of campus and crossing a major avenue. Existing conditions, pedestrian and vehicular routing, connected and surrounding buildings all pose opportunities we are managing to ensure this project's success."

The groundbreaking ceremony was attended by donors, dignitaries, supporters and key stakeholders who have contributed to the project.

"Right here in Birmingham, Alabama, the future of modern medicine is taking shape every day," said Gov. Kay Ivey. "Genomic medicine is the future of healthcare, and yet again, Alabama is leading the nation in finding innovative ways to create a healthier society for us all."

"This facility, made possible by the foresight and help of our state and local leaders, as well as generous donors, will position UAB and Alabama to be a global leader in precision medicine and genomic sciences, enhancing world-class clinical care for our community and beyond," said UAB President Ray Watts. "Advancements in precision medicine, informatics and data sciences will now be accelerated, and we will gain greater understanding of the roles our genes and the environment play in major human diseases. These discoveries will lead to the development of new lifesaving treatments."

Recently, crews have been pouring the concrete structure for the new tower and conference center. Renovation for the existing portion of the building includes utility and infrastructure upgrades. Framing and installation of drywall have also taken place.

Concrete foundations for the tower addition have already been completed, along with concrete placement on levels one through four of the new tower and conference center. Interior wall mechanical, electrical and plumbing rough-in has also been completed on several floors.

Key tasks remaining include separation of the chilled water utilities from surrounding buildings, completion of the new tower and conference center concrete structure, new roofing for the existing portion of the building and exterior renovation on the existing structure. Elevator replacement and installation of finishes must also be completed.

Demolition of the Kracke Building and the Pittman Center for Advanced Medical Studies began in July 2021 and was completed the following January. Selective and controlled demolition was used, due to proximity to the other structures. Crews relied on dump trucks, trackhoes, extended boom trackhoes, track excavators and skid steers.

"It went well, with no notable issues," said Lunceford. "This is a LEED project, and recyclable materials were collected and tracked. We used roll-off trucks and dumpsters to transport the material off site."

Because the project included demolition of existing buildings, site prep and new ground-up concrete structures, rain caused some rescheduling of work, but nothing unexpected.

"The site work included the removal of foundations for the demolished buildings. We also performed an undercut, backfill and compaction to prepare for new construction foundations. Foundations for the new tower required piers to be drilled and poured with concrete."

Crews removed foundations for the demolished buildings using a trackhoe with a hydraulic hammer/breaker attachment to pulverize the concrete into smaller chunks that were removed by an excavator bucket. The site was relatively flat, with most dirt movement associated with new structure foundations and will include topsoil for newly created green space.

As for unexpected issues, Lunceford said, "We anticipated some complexities with existing utility separation. We encountered an abandoned steam line that we had to remove, and isolation of chilled water and domestic water was complicated due to existing valves needing to be replaced."

Main equipment on the project includes a tower crane, 110 Brokk robotic excavator, vacuum truck, concrete pump trucks, track excavators, skid steer, swing stages and scaffolding. Concrete, metal studs, drywall and glazed aluminum curtain wall are among the main materials being used.

M.J. Harris Construction Services LLC serves as the contractor, with D.H. Griffin Wrecking Company Inc. handling the demolition. Williams Blackstock Architects also is part of the project team.

According to the official news release, the project is being funded through $50 million from the state of Alabama via the Public School and College Authority, which is the largest-ever investment from the state in a university facility. UAB will recruit more than 75 additional investigators and 350 new support staff over the next five-plus years to work alongside the current team of researchers.

Construction is expected to be completed in summer 2024.

"This has been a fun project to watch because of the demanding timeline, the location in the center of our research and clinical spaces, and the transformation it is bringing to this space," said Greg Parsons, UAB's associate vice president and chief facilities officer. "The most rewarding part is knowing how impactful the collaborative research will be to our campus, city, county, state and to the world." CEG




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