“A Stellar and Beautiful Building”: 538 Renovation Reaches Completion

By Chris Worthington, staff writer; photos by Richard Frederickson, staff photographer
Building 538 Open House event

When NCI at Frederick began receiving royalty money from the HPV vaccine research by Doug Lowy, John Schiller, and colleagues, a portion was set aside for facilities renovations on the NCI at Frederick campus. One of the first spaces slated for renovation was Building 538, which was mainly occupied by Center for Cancer Research (CCR) scientists.

The first stages of the renovation began over 18 months ago. Now, the upgraded building boasts over 44,000 square feet of custom lab space designed by CCR and a team from the Office of Space and Facilities Management (OSFM) that included Fred Khoshbin, Director; Bob Farahpour, Senior Mechanical Engineer; and Chris Bell, Program Manager.

To design the labs, the teams met every other week and worked with the scientists who would eventually occupy the building. Several CCR members, including Joel Schneider, Ph.D., Deputy Director; Darren Henderson, Associate Director, Office of Research Support; and Glenn Merlino, Ph.D., Scientific Director for Basic Research, played a critical leadership role in the project.

“The entire building is an enormous upgrade. The infrastructure is current state-of-the-art, including communications and laboratory functions. The entire thing is new. It is absolutely a stellar and beautiful building,” said Schneider.

And none of it would have been possible without the guiding hand of the Frederick National Laboratory’s Facilities Maintenance and Engineering (FME) team, who managed the contracts and worked hand in hand with OSFM to oversee the project’s day-to-day aspects.

“The staff at FME were under enormous pressure in facilitating this renovation and deserve much kudos!” added Schneider.

Upgrades include fiber-optic cabling for high-speed equipment and data transfer, high-efficiency LED fixtures and occupancy-based lighting control, and a bevy of structural upgrades including a new roof, new windows, new elevators, and new HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems that are modern and reliable. A 600-kilowatt emergency generator will keep the lights on and important equipment running during any power outages.

“The renovation of Building 538 will provide our outstanding Frederick structural and chemical biologists with the working environment they deserve and facilitate their ability to achieve their research goals,” Merlino said. “Moreover, it should serve as a long-term boost by enhancing their ability to recruit at all levels. We are delighted with the new and improved 538 and excited about the future of Frederick research.”

VIP Open House Offers First Glimpse of New Facility

The upgraded building was showcased during the recent Building 538 Refurbishment Open House, hosted by FME and attended by staff from both NCI at Frederick and the Frederick National Laboratory.

“This is a great day,” said Frederick National Laboratory’s director and president of Leidos Biomedical Research, Ethan Dmitrovsky, M.D., as he and about a dozen others, including scientists and senior leaders, toured the upgraded facilities.

The renovation cost $35 million, and at the peak of construction, 136 contractors were at work simultaneously. The contracting company committed a total of 256,000 hours to the project—a whopping 123 work years.

Staff began moving their labs to the new workspace on January 7, though it will take several months until all the building’s occupants are fully moved.

“CCR is very thankful to have the support of the NCI-OD in renovating space that is so critical to our mission,” Schneider said. “Further, we are truly thankful to all the folks that committed so much of their time and effort in seeing this project to fruition.”

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