image title

ASU's Biodesign C marks milestone with topping-out celebration

June 28, 2017

Research building will house a key drug discovery and bioenergy research tool: The world’s first compact free-electron X-ray laser

Arizona State University celebrated a major research building construction milestone Wednesday morning with the topping out of the $120 million Biodesign Institute C Research Building.

The ceremony officially commemorated the completion of the main structural work and gave the community a preview of future benefits when the third building in the ASU Biodesign Institute’s master-planned, 14-acre complex located on the main campus in Tempe, Arizona, is completed in the summer of 2018.

 Video by Grace Clark/ASU

Joshua LaBaer, Biodesign’s executive director and a renowned cancer researcher, sees the addition of this new space as concrete evidence of ASU’s significant commitment to leading the field with discoveries that keep people and the planet healthy.

“Powered by intellect, energy and innovation, our researchers believe they can accomplish what others often find impossible,” said LaBaer. “With the addition of Biodesign C, we will soon have nearly 700 scientists of all kinds — biologists, engineers, chemists, physicists, mathematicians, computer technologists — and students working together to find creative and clean solutions for energy, air and water. We will invent new diagnostics and treatments that are accessible and affordable, and in some cases, we expect to be able to halt disease before it even begins.”

After a welcome address from Tamara Deuser, acting chief operating officer for the Biodesign Institute and associate vice president of research operations at ASU's Knowledge Enterprise Development (KED), the final beam was hoisted aloft — a 21-foot-long, quarter-ton metal beam placed by workers for McCarthy Construction, which oversees the construction of the nearly 200,0000-square-foot building. Attached to the beam were an American flag, Biodesign banner and a pine tree, traditional emblems of topping-out ceremonies for steel-constructed buildings.

“Topping out marks a significant milestone in the construction process, signaling the final beam placement of a new structure,” said Justin Kelton, president of McCarthy Building Companies’ Southwest division. “For a research facility of world-class caliber like Biodesign Institute C represents, topping out is even more meaningful because it brings with it significant hope for our future and the promise of new discoveries and innovations.”

Biodesign Institute C will house a key drug discovery and bioenergy research tool — the world’s first compact free-electron X-ray laser — a super X-ray that will peer deep inside proteins to better understand both the action of molecules critical to cancer and other devastating diseases and better understand how plants convert sunlight into renewable energy. Scientists of varying disciplines will be in the lab’s “neighborhoods,” a layout of close proximity that encourages collaboration. The design is modeled after state-of-the-art research complexes like the J. Craig Venter Institute in La Jolla, California, which was also built by McCarthy.

Major research highlights include the following:

  • A custom-designed vault in the basement will house the world’s first compact X-ray free-electron laser, attracting top-line researchers nationwide. This project miniaturizes existing technology that stretches out about kilometers long and is currently only available in California, Japan and Korea. Scientific “gridlock” is delaying the discovery of new, more effective drugs and clean energy. Once ASU has successfully completed this project, the technology can be made available to research centers throughout the world.

  • Led by Eric Reiman, the new ASU-Banner Neurodegenerative Disease Research Center is expected to be one of the world’s largest basic science centers for the study of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. The team is working to develop clinical and research programs with Banner Health.

  • This new building and its inhabitants will drive ASU’s collaborative spirit of innovation far into the future, building on ASU’s reputation of No. 1 in innovation in the nation. Building C is designed to be a workplace that drives cooperation and collaboration between researchers from different fields — to accelerate our ability to drive new solutions into practice, called use-inspired research. Talented researchers from the Biodesign Institute, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering will eventually house 80 lead researchers and 300 support staff, bringing Biodesign’s total workforce to 700 strong.

  • The cost of the building is $120 million. It is funded by “green bonds” that allows investors to invest directly in projects identified as promoting environmental sustainability on ASU campuses.

  • At full capacity, Biodesign C is expected to increase ASU’s annual research expenditures by an estimated $60 million, supporting ASU’s goal of increasing research revenue to $850 million by 2025 and contributing an estimated $750 million to the Phoenix metro area in the coming decade.

  • Building C is 189,000 square feet, 60,000 of which is flexible lab space (bringing the total size of all three Biodesign buildings to 535,000 square feet).

  • Additionally, following ASU’s green building standards, Biodesign Institute C has been designed to the highest levels of sustainability and includes an innovative HVAC system to limit its energy and environmental footprint.

The new research facility includes five stories, a mechanical penthouse, plus a basement that connects with the ASU Biodesign Institute B building and will house the X-ray laser facility. The building’s adaptable design will accommodate multiple types of scientific research, including chemistry, biological sciences and engineering research. The building, composed mostly of wet laboratories and offices, also includes high-bay spaces.

The project team, which includes architects Zimmer Gunsul Frasca and BWS Architects in addition to general contractor McCarthy Building Companies, is employing the latest in virtual-reality technology and modeling to successfully execute this project for fast-track completion in spring 2018.

Some of the design and construction solutions implemented to date include:

  • Building a small exterior mockup on site using building materials to test for any deficiencies before actual construction. This mockup was put through extreme worst-case scenarios of wind, water and smoke tests to ensure energy efficiency.

  • Creating an interior lab space mockup for researchers to understand the placement of important features like sinks, gas outlets, counter heights, etc.

  • Developing an extensive pour process for the 19 white concrete columns, ensuring consistent color, sharp edges, smooth surface and precise angles to fulfill the design goal of support while also serving as a building showpiece.

  • Degaussing (the process of decreasing or eliminating a remnant magnetic field) all rebar in linear accelerator and laser labs, which saved approximately $1 million.

The targeted official opening date of Biodesign C is June 2018.

 

Top photo by Veronica Gomez

Joe Caspermeyer

Managing editor , Biodesign Institute

480-258-8972

 
image title
ASU professor studies roundabouts to ensure maximum safety, efficiency.
June 29, 2017

Roundabouts a contentious traffic feature in AZ, but an ASU professor found that they're safer, more efficient than traditional stops

Traffic roundabouts are like broccoli. Many of us don’t like them, but they’re good for our driving diets.

In the right conditions, they increase safety, lower crash severity, reduce traffic delays and can even reduce greenhouse gas emissions, says Mike Mamlouk, a professor of civil, environmental and sustainable engineering at Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

But despite their demonstrated safety in other states, they’re a highly polarizing traffic feature in Arizona, which is why Mamlouk decided to study their effects in the Grand Canyon State with former ASU graduate student Beshoy Souliman. Their research was funded by the National Transportation Center at Maryland, of which ASU is a consortium member.

Since modern roundabouts were first built in the United States in the 1990s, they’ve been constructed in most U.S. cities. In Arizona they began popping up more recently — in 2006. Today, the state has around 80 roundabouts, mostly in single-lane and some in double-lane configurations.

Mamlouk and Souliman studied 17 roundabouts in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Sedona, Cottonwood and Prescott to evaluate their effect on crashes and their severity.

They collected data on traffic volume and number and severity of accidents in an equal number of years before and after conversion from a stop sign or traffic signal to a roundabout. Additionally, they looked at crash severity and cost levels from damage only ($11,000 average) to fatality ($1.5 million average).

Modern roundabouts (left) are the newest traffic control system on our roadways, and smaller than older rotaries or traffic circles (right).
Modern roundabouts (left) are the newest traffic-control system on our roadways and smaller than older rotaries or traffic circles (right). Photo courtesy of Melissa Kay Photography, TripAdvisor

 Stops vs. roundabouts

Intersections are dangerous places for drivers. Almost half of all traffic collisions in the United States happen at intersections.

Transportation engineers have found that if intersections are designed to be more forgiving — especially for distracted drivers who may run red lights or stop signs — they can minimize accidents or reduce accident severity when drivers make mistakes.

Roundabouts are one solution to this problem. In a roundabout, drivers are required to yield to cars already in the circle before they can merge, and raised lane splitters and medians help reduce traffic speed.

This configuration eliminates the potential for head-on and right-angle crashes.

“If a motorist runs the red light at a signalized intersection or does not stop at the stop sign, the vehicle will be on the path of crossing vehicles or opposing vehicles when making a left turn, which may result in a major accident,” Mamlouk said. “However, if a motorist enters the roundabout and does not yield to vehicles already in the circle, vehicles will crash at a small angle, causing a low-severity accident.”

Roundabouts have fewer dangerous conflict points, making accidents less likely to occur and less severe when they do occur.
Roundabouts have fewer dangerous conflict points, making accidents less likely to occur and less severe when they do occur. Graphic courtesy of Mike Mamlouk

 Reduced traffic speed as drivers approach the roundabout intersection also reduces crash severity.

He added that the geometry of a roundabout means there are fewer conflicting points where crashes can occur. So in addition to reducing the severity of crashes, roundabouts reduce the chance of crashes.

Mamlouk and Souliman found that single-lane roundabouts decreased the total accident rate by 18 percent per year, and decreased the injury rate by 44 percent per year.

To Mamlouk’s surprise, two-lane roundabout accidents increased the total accident rate per year by 62 percent. However, these accidents were less severe and the injury rate decreased by 16 percent.

There was one fatality at a single-lane roundabout before conversion and one fatality at a double-lane roundabout before conversion. After roundabout conversions there were no fatalities for both single- and double-lane roundabouts. Also, the average accident cost per intersection decreased for both single- and double-lane roundabouts.

Constructing roundabouts in the right conditions

Though safety improved at the roundabouts the researchers studied, they are effective only in the right conditions, called warrants, which include levels of traffic volume, traffic fluctuation during the day, peak-hour factor, pedestrian volume, school crossing, crash experience and roadway network.

The Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices lists warrants for various intersection control types, except roundabouts. Guidelines exist, but the decision is often more subjective than decisions to install stop signs or traffic lights.

“Although no warrants are currently available, engineers use the available guidelines together with previous experience to decide if a roundabout is suitable at an intersection,” Mamlouk said. “Warrants make the decision easier, consistent and more objective.”

When placed correctly, roundabouts also result in non-safety improvements for drivers.

“Instead of stopping at the stop sign or at the red light when no other vehicles are at the intersection, roundabouts allow motorists to proceed with caution without stopping, allowing for free-flow movement,” Mamlouk said. “Reducing stopping has the benefit of increasing the intersection capacity and reducing traffic delay and greenhouse gas emission.”

However, when poorly placed, roundabouts can cause increased traffic congestion and crash rates.

Warrants also help determine when a roundabout is no longer needed as traffic conditions change.

Educating the public

Mike Mamlouk
Professor Mike Mamlouk

As Mamlouk’s research concludes, he is presenting his findings to public officials to help them carefully assess the specific conditions at intersections before converting them to roundabouts.

As he and other researchers continue to observe and report on roundabout performance, warrants adhering to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices will begin to be developed.

Mamlouk also hopes to work with public agencies to help educate drivers about the proper use and advantages of roundabouts.

With only 80 roundabout intersections among the thousands of roadway intersections in the state, they’re still fairly rare, and using them correctly can take some practice

“When they introduced the traffic signals in the 1920s, it took people several years to get familiar with the three-color system and understand the rules of the traffic signal,” Mamlouk said. “I am sure people will get familiar with roundabouts with time and experience.”

Just as with the basics of using the traffic signal — now a no-brainer to alert drivers — the rules of the roundabout are simple:

“Remember, when getting close to a roundabout, slow down, look left, let vehicles already in the roundabout pass first, and then proceed with caution,” Mamlouk said.

Monique Clement

Communications specialist , Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

480-727-1958