Project Summary
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill – Marsico Hall

A powerhouse in cancer research, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Marsico Hall is built to contain the most powerful imaging equipment in the world.

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The Space
  • Eagle Award, Excellence in Construction (Mega Projects Over $100 Million) Assoc. Builders & Contractors
  • Eagle Award, Excellence in Construction (Schools $50+ Million), Assoc. Builders & Contractors - Carolinas
  • Certificate of Safety Achievement, NCDOL
  • Excellence in Safety Award, ENR Southeast
  • Best Projects Award of Merit, Higher Education/Research, ENR Southeast
  • Carolinas Green Award, Associated Builders and Contractors of the Carolinas
  • Excellence in Concrete, ACI Carolinas
Square Footage 343,000
Location Chapel Hill, NC
One of eight projects completed for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Marsico Hall represents the culmination of many elements found in other jobs: safety and sustainability; innovation and ingenuity; teamwork and tenacity. At its completion, Marsico Hall marked the largest CM at-Risk project ever completed in the State of North Carolina. The facility contains UNC’s Biomolecular Research Imaging Center (BRIC), the School of Pharmacy’s Center for Integrative Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery, the Center of Nanotechnology in Drug Delivery, the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Marsico Lung Institute. Within these spaces are contained laboratories for nanomedicine, pharmacy laboratories, general purpose wet labs and various administrative and support staff spaces.

A Web of Challenges

Numerous utility lines, including those being used by the neighboring research and hospital facilities, sat silently under the demolished parking lot and a single-story building in the area where Marsico Hall would eventually be built. One of these utilities included the highly important chilled water lines. The improper and untimely shut off of these lines could consequentially ruin research being contained and preserved in nearby facilities. With extreme caution and great synchronization between the University and Choate, trucks with mounted chiller equipment were brought in and connected in order to provide an uninterrupted service to the neighboring facilities while the existing lines were being rerouted. The coordination, shut off, and rerouting of all the utilities took several months.

To make room for the two below-grade levels that would house the cyclotron and other imaging equipment, Marsico Hall’s site required deep excavations and shoring systems on all sides. Excavating below the grade level already posed a challenge because of the tight jobsite, but blasting was also limited because of potential vibration concerns in nearby medical buildings. Extensive rock plus ground and trapped water on the site required vast amounts of underslab-drainage and waterproofing systems. Vibration sensors were used to make sure that site vibrations stayed under the near zero amount.

The team worked off-hours and on weekends to ensure excavation would not interfere with the strict vibration limitations.

The Future of Cancer Research

As the culmination of several different disciplines, Marsico Hall contains an expansive array of medical equipment, with the most notable being the 17 MEV Cyclotron and the 880 MeV cyclotron. Other notable technologies within the facility include four Magnetic Resonance Imagers, Crystallography equipment, a fully-automated Vivarium and five Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imagers..

Virtual Modeling

Running throughout Marsico Hall are the veins of incredibly intricate mechanical systems that sit hidden from plain sight, working tirelessly to power the facility. These MEP systems added considerable construction challenges requiring extensive teamwork and the implementation of frequently updated BIM models.

Because of the massive imaging equipment Marsico Hall holds, the requirements of the mechanical systems were substantial compared to a facility of similar size. A MEP penthouse was designed and constructed in addition to the sub-basement MEP space, allowing room for the complex systems. With stacked air handlers totaling nearly 24-feet in height, a MEP penthouse was required given these air handlers could not be accommodated on any of Marsico Hall’s 16-foot high floors. Utilizing BIM technology, the entire team worked relentlessly to have all drawings and models properly coordinated, making the installation of the MEP systems straightforward.



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