Beyond the high-tech, cleanroom construction, the U shape of a semiconductor lab project site at Hanscom Air Force Base in Boston’s western suburbs—as well as the proximity of the new lab complex to other buildings—will challenge Gilbane and cleanroom construction firm Exyte.

Gearing up to break ground on its $279-million project this spring, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory (MIT LL) recently hired the Gilbane and Exyte joint venture to build the Advanced Compound Semiconductor Laboratory/Microsystem Integration Facility.

The 162,000-sq-ft complex will take three years to build and will feature a mix of new lab and office space, as well as a cleanroom complex.

The Microsystem Integration Facility will provide a boost to the capabilities of MIT LL’s current facilities for “fabrication and packaging of specialized advanced electronic prototypes.” That, in turn is critical for the lab and its ability to “apply advanced technology to the realm of national security throughout the 21st century,” Gilbane and MIT LL said in a press release.

The lab will take shape on an empty, U-shaped lot between four other buildings where sensitive research work also is taking place. Construction crews will have to dig down through eight to 10 ft of bedrock get to the bottom of the foundation, requiring bracing and shoring of neighboring lab buildings to prevent vibrations from disrupting their work—the closest of those labs not even 20 ft away, said Jeff Haluch, vice president of federal facilities for Gilbane.

In addition to being surrounded by buildings, the development site abuts the main road, with no room to stack or store materials.

That, in turn, will require significant coordination when it comes to delivering building materials to the site, he said.

“The site has limited space,” Haluch said. “There is not a lot of room for a large laydown. There will be a lot of timed deliveries and lot of pre-planning to make sure the materials show up on time.”

Gilbane has been tracking the job since 2018, with the company going through “multiple iterations of bids” before landing the project, he said.

Gilbane and Exyte also will work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and officials at Hanscom Air Force Base, which is located in Bedford, with sections of it extending into neighboring Lexington and other communities.

“We are excited to go into the field and get this project off the ground,” Haluch said.

Gilbane is currently focusing on bringing in a team of subs, which will range from site contractors to mechanical and electrical firms, said Haluch. “This project will run the gamut.” 

As work ramps up, the project will require as many as 400 skilled construction workers, as well as a 25-member project management team, he said.