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Photon Sciences Directorate at Brookhaven National Laboratory

The Quick Pace of Construction

Steve Dierker

"We are ahead of schedule and within budget on construction of the basic buildings and utilities for NSLS-II. Teamwork is key to our success." — Martin Fallier Director, Facilities Division

Compare the pictures taken October 2009 and September 2010 (below). They show the remarkable progress made this year on NSLS-II construction, evidence of the hard work of everyone involved — from Photon Sciences staff to construction workers on the site.

The Facilities Division, responsible for the design and construction of conventional facilities within the Photon Sciences Directorate, is necessarily focused on NSLS-II. With a budget of $912 million and an official completion date of 2015, NSLS-II is the largest domestic capital project under construction by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

Construction of the facility is expected to create more than 1,250 construction jobs and 450 scientific, engineering, and support jobs, plus additional jobs at U.S. material suppliers and service providers. By the time conventional construction is complete, Brookhaven Lab will have purchased $120 million in labor and $115 million in materials for the basic buildings and utilities.

NSLS-II Site - October 1, 2009

NSLS-II construction site, October 2009

NSLS-II Site - September 21, 2010

NSLS-II construction site, September 2010

For fiscal year 2010, the division concentrated on the following:

  • constructing the ring building, which will house the accelerator and the experimental facilities
  • expanding the Laboratory’s utility infrastructure, which includes adding 2,500 tons of cooling capacity to the existing chilled water plant and 20 megavolt amperes capacity to the Lab’s main electrical substation for the added requirements of NSLS-II
  • issuing the contract for laboratory-office buildings (LOBs)

Because of the accelerator tunnel and the robust construction of the ring building, concrete placement was the critical path for much of the year. Unseasonably cold weather and major snowfall events during the winter season led to a frost depth of nearly 15 inches. Despite the challenging weather, overall progress continued to be on or ahead of schedule, as the general contractor, Torcon, was able to finish key activities on the critical path. For example, Torcon placed a record 3,854 cubic yards of concrete in April 2010 — 1,727 cubic yards more than what was planned for that month.

The LOB contract was awarded in August 2010 to E.W. Howell, following months of work to finalize the design and complete the procurement process. Funding for the LOBs comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The NSLS-II Project received $150 million in ARRA funding, $34 million of which was designated for the LOBs.

At year’s end, the NSLS-II Project was 37 percent complete, and the division looked forward to a “topping out” celebration. In the construction industry, workers sign the last steel beam before it’s bolted into place, completing the structural steel framework of a building. That construction milestone was just around the corner.