UNT Health Science Center
The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth (HSC) is about to launch a three-year research study that, if successful, will allow medical professionals to detect Alzheimer’s Disease with a simple blood test in a primary care setting. HSC partnered with Structure Tone Southwest and Boulder Associates, Inc. to turn 12,580sf of their campus into a state-of-the-art research space designed to suit the specific needs of the study.
In order to confirm the accuracy of the blood test in detecting Alzheimer’s, the study requires two separate areas—a space where the research team will draw blood from participants and process those samples, and a diagnostic imaging area where the team will compare the blood test results with each patient’s brain scans. To satisfy grant requirements, the research space needed to be complete in just six months, so Structure Tone Southwest developed a unique approach to meet HSC’s tight timeline.
Rather than building the entire space from a construction perspective and moving the four massive pieces of imaging equipment—two 3T MRI machines and two PET/ CT machines—into the space afterwards, the project team decided to move the huge MRI magnets into the rooms while the facility was still under construction.
Structure Tone Southwest worked closely with Siemens Healthineers, HSC’s imaging equipment supplier, to gain buy-in for this unconventional scheduling approach. Siemens was included in page-turn meetings with subcontractors from the get-go and agreed to allow the magnets to be brought in earlier than usual. Once Siemens was on board, the team ensured the magnets were protected by installing them after the walls and ceilings were built. Then, the trades were able to complete the rest of the finishes in the space around them without the risk of damage.
Working on this accelerated, six-month schedule, the project team engaged STSW’s BIM experts to coordinate the building’s mechanical systems. They used BIM visualization to find an entry point and travel path before moving the heavy machinery through the building so the structure wouldn’t be compromised. The team also used a Matterport 3D camera to capture the post-demo ceilings and later used the tool again to conduct the above-ceiling inspection.
Construction was completed on time in September 2020. The space and staff will be ready to begin their research by the end of the year.
“We have really appreciated the entire team put together by Structure Tone Southwest, they were a pleasure to work with. Their level of professionalism and communication throughout the construction and closeout process stood out, and their detailed weekly meetings were a big help to me in communicating progress up the chain of command.”
Matt Rowland, HSC associate director of construction.