Cornell gets nano-cleanroom

AUG. 19–ST. LOUIS, Mo.–McCarthy Building Companies, in a joint venture with Welliver McGuire, has recently completed the construction of a highly sensitive cleanroom laboratory, which will be used for nanofabrication teaching and research and development at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

The cleanroom is part of Duffield Hall, a $50 million nanotechnology research and teaching facility that McCarthy/Welliver McGuire is constructing to provide updated accommodations for the Cornell NanoScale Science and Technology Facility – the oldest federally supported nanotechnology center in the United States.

The cleanroom, which occupies 20,000 square feet of Duffield Hall’s first floor will replace an existing, outdated research laboratory at the university and give students an area for learning nanotechnology processes.

“McCarthy and Welliver McGuire have done a tremendous job in constructing Duffield Hall and especially the cleanroom,” said Robert Stundtner, project director at Cornell University. “The team has met every challenge of building a very sophisticated and sensitive facility that will enhance nanotechnology research and development for years to come. In addition to building in the heart of the Engineering College, McCarthy and Welliver McGuire have maintained operations of the existing cleanroom, absorbed $5 million in additional work, achieved an outstanding safety record and still met our demanding schedule needs.”

Due to the sensitive nature of nanotechnology equipment and the stringent clean environment requirements, McCarthy/Welliver McGuire established Clean Build Protocols throughout the entire cleanroom construction process.

These protocols require strict adherence to special construction procedures to keep the space clean and that protective gear be worn by all of those inside the laboratory, including all construction workers. The facility includes elaborate HVAC, fire alarm, and gas monitoring systems to manage the hazardous materials that are present in the nanofabrication laboratory. Special material handling, piping and ducting ensure safe distribution of materials.

“In a nanofabrication area, the diameter of a human hair can be tens of thousands of times the size of the structures being built, and therefore indicative of the importance of maintaining a clean environment from the start of construction through completion,” said Eric Torkildson, project manager at McCarthy Building Companies. “Because of the stringent requirements associated with this project, our team has been very conscious of coordinating with the university to meet all Clean Build Protocols, and we are very proud of the outcome.”

As part of the project, McCarthy/Welliver McGuire also are managing the tool-installation for the cleanroom, which includes the procurement and movement of sensitive equipment into the laboratory. Due to stringent clean environment requirements, all new laboratory equipment as well as tools from the previous facility are required to be cleaned prior to being admitted into the new cleanroom.

To ensure that the cleanroom will have the most state-of-the-art equipment, some of the laboratory tools have been developed within the recent months, resulting in a tight schedule to complete bidding, procurement and delivery of the equipment. You can learn more about this exciting project and watch the construction take place at

McCarthy/Welliver McGuire began work on Duffield Hall in August 2001 and the entire facility is scheduled for completion in June 2004. The architect for the Cornell University project is Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Partnership of Los Angeles. BR&A Consulting Engineers of Boston is serving as a mechanical/electrical engineer.

In addition to its work in New York at Cornell University, McCarthy is also constructing the new Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies on the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s campus in Troy, N.Y. McCarthy’s nationwide research and development projects include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory in Atlanta, Ga.; United States Department of Agriculture’s high-containment laboratory in Ames, Iowa; and University of California-Berkeley’s $107 million research hall replacement.


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