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July 2010 Issue

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Extra Care Being Taken in MSB's Makeover

Published July 2010

What’s behind the doorway to the northeast quadrant of the Medical Sciences Building (MSB), where work is under way on Phase II of the building’s rehabilitation project?

Well, for starters, another door.

It’s all part of a painstaking effort (in this case, adding another barrier between the rehab work and the rest of the MSB) to ensure that noise, dust and other factors associated with such a large-scale project cause as little disruption as possible.

"This is a major infrastructure project, but it’s important for us to keep in mind that work needs to proceed as normally as possible in the rest of the building,” says Greg Braswell, director of planning for the Academic Health Center. 

The MSB rehabilitation project is a four-phase expansion and renovation of teaching and research space on the medical campus. Phase I was construction of the Center for Academic and Research Excellence (CARE)/ Crawley Building, which is connected to the MSB via a glass atrium and the western portion of the lower five floors of the MSB.

The focus of Phases II-IV is to rehabilitate the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems of the MSB, which opened in 1974. In addition, a fire suppression system will be added, the central restrooms will be brought up to Americans with Disabilities Act standards, fume hoods will be replaced and improvements made to the fume hood exhaust system. Also in Phase IV, the southeast quadrant of the MSB will be converted into office space.

Completion of the entire project is expected in 2015.

Work on Phase II, which involves the northeast quadrant of floors E through 6 and the north half of the seventh floor, has been under way since early March. Outward signs of activity include the conversion of Levine Park to a staging area (it will be restored and reopened again in 2013 following completion of Phase III work), installation of an exterior buckhoist (equipment lift) and placement of a tower crane that extends about 50 feet over the roof of the MSB.

Inside, behind the doors and temporary walls, workers are busy preparing the area for work that is expected to begin later this summer, such as replacing air-handling units, performing major vertical duct work for fume exhaust and installing a new sprinkler system. Lab benches and sinks have been enclosed in plywood, and fiberboard covers the floors.

"Negative exhaust” fans are placed at various points in the project’s work areas, helping keep dust to a minimum by drawing air into, not out of, the construction area when someone opens a door.

For now, it’s a "ghost town” atmosphere, with once-bustling offices and labs sitting empty amid a few reminders of the area’s former activity. Along one hallway, a 1997-98 UC basketball schedule is on display across from a poster providing information on T cell-mediated cytotoxicity.

By late next year, researchers are expected to replace construction workers as Phase II work is 
completed and people begin to move back into the northeast quadrant. Work on Phase III (the northwest quadrant of floors 1 through 6 and the north half of the seventh floor) is expected to begin in early 2012.

For more information and the latest updates, check out the MSB rehabilitation project’s website  at

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