The BBF has reached its full size at 11 floors and 620,000 square feet

The BBF has reached its full size at 11 floors and 620,000 square feet

The Brigham Building for the Future (BBF) might look like a ghostly figure right now as tarps covering the soon-to-be walls of the steel structure flap in the wind, but behind the cloth, the 11-story translational research and clinical space is transforming into something spectacular every day.

With the final piece of steel placed on the building last month and the addition of an extra floor, the BBF has now reached its full height, which is a significant milestone, said lead architect Tom Sieniewicz, a partner at NBBJ architecture firm in Boston. Work is also being done to complete the underground parking garage.

“We continue to progress upward floor by floor,” he said. “Right now, we have around 280 tradesmen working daily on the building, and those numbers will rise as construction progresses. In the end, incredibly skilled and hard-working laborers are essentially lifting the building into place —every stud, concrete block and piece of drywall.”

The BBF, a 620,000-square-foot building scheduled to open in the fall of 2016, will include research laboratories, outpatient clinical space, a state-of-the-art imaging facility and a conference and teaching center.

Other work that has been completed includes the building of an underground space in the basement that will house a co-generation power plant – a natural gas-fired engine that will supply the building with electricity and steam. The massive engine was built in Germany and recently arrived in Massachusetts.

Another major underground component will be the imaging facility. Inside the space, crews are currently building vibration isolation pads, which are massive blocks of concrete that will be used to ensure that the six highly-sophisticated MRI and CT machines maintain separation from the building structure and produce precise images.

A bridge that will offer a public connection over Fenwood Road is being built and will also link the BBF to Shapiro and the rest of BWH via the second-floor Pike.

“The wonderful thing about the bridge over Fenwood is that it’s at the same elevation as the historic 15 Francis St. entry to the hospital,” Sieniewicz said. “So if you were to roll a marble from 15 Francis to the BBF, it would stay level the whole time and yet you’d d be three stories in the air.”

Steve Dempsey, director of Planning and Construction at BWH, said BWH was able to fund an additional floor with unused project contingencies that were left over as a result of effective design and real-time cost projection efforts. Also, because the building envelope was shorter—by a half floor—than the proposal approved by the city, adding an extra floor didn’t cause any major issues.

Dempsey said the additional floor, which will house faculty offices, helped the project team go a long way towards aligning faculty, staff and researchers inside the BBF. He and his team have had discussions with all of the clinical and research groups that will practice and study inside the BBF and know who will be on which floors and in what locations.

“Once we knew that adding another floor was possible, it was impossible to turn away from,” Dempsey said.

Designed to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification, the building will feature a roof garden to reduce storm water runoff, a system that cleans and reuses storm water for mechanical equipment, the co-generation plant and other “green” aspects.

Vincent McDermott, vice president of Finance and Real Estate for BWHC, said the project has proceeded remarkably well, which is a testament to the efforts of many people.

“The BBF will provide a platform for collaboration of clinical and research talent, investigating cutting-edge discovery and providing innovative clinical care to our patients across the region, the nation and the world,” he said.

By springtime of this year, the building will be fully enclosed and transformed visually. This is when additional crews will be called in to work on the inside of the structure.