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Design & Construction

The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) is a new 574,000 gross square foot biocontainment laboratory facility that will provide state-of-the-art infrastructure for developing vaccines, performing diagnostics, and developing countermeasures against large animal foreign animal diseases (FADs) and zoonotic diseases.

The DHS Science & Technology Directorate will transfer ownership and operational responsibility for the new National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), located in Manhattan, Kansas, to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in spring 2023.

For the latest information on the new NBAF facility, please visit the USDA’s NBAF web site at https://www.usda.gov/nbaf.

Thorough Design

The NBAF design represents extensive efforts to “right-size” the laboratory, above and beyond typical efforts to determine square footage needs, including consultation with operators of existing large animal biosafety level 4 (ABSL-4) laboratories in other nations.  Scoping activities included the following:

  • Several extensive and iterative design reviews were held to confirm the NBAF size and scope by identifying laboratory spaces and animal holding rooms that can be shared thereby participant agencies, thus eliminating duplicate spaces.
  • Benchmarking tours of other biocontainment labs took place to learn best practices and incorporate efficiencies in design;
  • The design team hosted an international peer review of prominent researchers and facility operators to evaluate overall efficiency, throughput, room sizes, and flexibility to handle emerging zoonotic diseases;
  • A facility mockup was commissioned to ensure that space clearances are appropriate for equipment and research processes unique to each space type.

Modern Biocontainment Standards

The NBAF will meet or exceed all modern biocontainment design principles and standards.  Redundant safety and containment features will establish critical life safety systems, including supply and exhaust air filtration, breathing air systems, decontamination systems, exhaust fans, emergency and/or uninterrupted power supply, etc.  All recommendations identified in the NBAF risk assessment were incorporated into the facility’s design.

Design Services Contract

The Department selected an NBAF Design Partnership (NDP), led by Perkins + Will of Atlanta, Georgia, as the architecture-engineering firm to begin pre-design services, such as determining program requirements, developing a feasibility study and other planning services. In 2009, NDP began validating program requirements and designing NBAF for the selected site in Manhattan, Kansas. NBAF design was completed in July 2012.

Construction Services Contract

The Department selected McCarthy/Mortenson, a Joint Venture to complete all phases of construction required for successful completion of the project. McCarthy’s headquarters office is located in St. Louis, MO. Mortenson has local offices in Manhattan, KS and is the largest general contractor in that area. McCarthy/Mortenson was awarded the contract through a competitive process based upon their expertise in constructing biocontainment labs.

The contract awarded to McCarthy/Mortenson includes phased options to award future construction tasks to the firm for the duration of the NBAF development process as part of the Construction Manager as Constructor (CMc) acquisition approach successfully used on the Department’s National BioDefense Analysis & Countermeasures Center (NBACC) project.

Last Updated: 01/25/2023
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