The U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) has awarded the joint venture team of St. Louis-based McCarthy Building Cos. Inc. and Mortenson Construction, Minneapolis and Denver, an $80-million contract for the Central Utility Plant for the future National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan.

Construction of the 87,000-sq-ft, freestanding Central Utility Plant is expected to begin immediately and complete in October 2015.

The plant will house the primary heating and cooling systems for the adjacent laboratory as well as diesel generators for supplying emergency power to the facility.

McCarthy/Mortenson was awarded the preconstruction services contract in 2009 for the future animal research lab that the plant will serve.  So far, the joint venture construction manager has provided design reviews, cost estimates, construction feasibility reviews, design mockups, scheduling services and site preparation activities. The McCarthy/Mortenson team was selected for both contracts through a best-value competitive process based on the team’s expertise in constructing biosafety facilities and its experience in the Manhattan, Kan., area.

The NBAF project will contain 574,000 gross sq ft of facility space that includes BSL-2, 3, and 4 shared research space to be constructed on the 50-acre site. The NBAF Design Partnership is the architect and engineer on the project.

The facility will house advanced research, diagnostic testing and validation, countermeasure development (i.e., vaccines and anti-viral therapies) and diagnostic training for high-consequence livestock diseases. It will also provide the infrastructure to improve understanding and preparedness for potential bioterrorism employing foreign animal disease and zoonotic disease pathogens that may be accidentally or intentionally introduced in the United States and will develop capabilities to improve protection against such threats.

The McCarthy/Mortenson team is using the latest construction technology and tools on the project, including virtual design and construction (VDC), which allows the team to build the entire project virtually before actual construction.  “Our use of industry-pioneering VDC helps to make sure the facility is built in the most cost efficient way possible, while still achieving quality construction and ease of operation and maintenance,” said Mortenson Vice President Derek Cunz.

The McCarthy/Mortenson joint venture brings extensive knowledge and experience in the construction of BSL-3E, 3Ag and 4 facilities to the project.  McCarthy has completed similar biosafety level projects for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture in Ames, Iowa, and Boston University in Boston. Mortenson brings long-standing, local experience in the Manhattan, Kan., area, along with the experience of working on a similar laboratory project at the University of Colorado at Denver’s Research II building in Aurora.

“Award of the Central Utility Plant is a highly significant milestone in moving the NBAF project forward,” said McCarthy Senior Vice President Tom Kreher. “McCarthy/Mortenson is excited to use our expertise and technology to be on the forefront of helping the United States government in the fight against bioterrorism and in protecting our nation’s food supply.”