University of Wyoming High Bay Research Facility
Laramie, Wyo.  
Best Project, Higher Education & Research; Best Project, Excellence in Safety

Owner: University of Wyoming
Lead Design Firm: Malone Belton Abel PC
General Contractor: Haselden Construction
Civil Engineer: WWC Engineering
Structural Engineer: Martin/Martin Wyoming Consulting Engineers
MEP Engineer: ME Engineers Inc.
Architects: GSG Architecture; ZGF

The $58.7-million, 108,100-sq-ft High Bay Research Facility is a critical part of the University of Wyoming’s bid to become a Tier 1 school in engineering and the sciences. The building gets its name from its high ceilings, or high-bay spaces, which range from 24.5 ft to 28 ft, and can accommodate various research needs.

Primary research in the facility focuses on oil and gas flowing through “tight rocks” such as shale. Housing more than $20 million worth of scientific equipment, the center also is set up to study the flow of various fluids and a wide range of porous materials: for example, the process of sequestering carbon dioxide in geologic formations. 

Safety systems put in place during the project remain at the facility today. For example, instead of a standard, temporary tie-off system for fall protection, Haselden Construction installed a permanent, roof-based apparatus that’s currently used for building maintenance needs such as working on the air handler. 

In addition, the Haselden team took a proactive approach to covering the large holes used to transfer materials between floors. The holes were big enough for a small person to fall through or become trapped in, or for an object to fall through and harm a person below. The contractor’s safety plan addressed the holes during construction, but that didn’t provide for covers after the building was occupied. Free of charge, Haselden crews built convenient and highly visible covers.

To encourage safety on the jobsite, the team motivated people to nominate safety-conscious co-workers, placing cans for ballots at weekly subcontractor meetings and in the jobsite trailer. The team also gave biweekly prizes (T-shirts, tools, gift cards) to people who made good safety suggestions. The contractor prompted 12 subcontractors to commit to OSHA’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program.

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