uchicago medicine, advanced cellular therapeutics facility

Commissioning this sensitive project helped ensure the quality of medications prepared for the medical center’s patients.

Commissioning engineer in personal protective equipment in laboratory.

The Objective

This unusual project involved renovations to an existing facility, creating three new cGMP cell transduction process suites that are ISO 7 classified, with gown in/out spaces that bridge between ISO 8 and ISO 7. The lab also includes a GTP (Good Tissue Practices) lab and a translational lab built to ISO 8 standards. Lab support includes GMP storage, LN2 dewar storage, and gowning, as well as office space for 15 and a conference room.

The Response

The scope encompassed both design- and construction-phase commissioning, as well as post-construction training sessions for the users and O&M staff. Twenty-two functional performance tests were prepared and were conducted in collaboration with the relevant contractors. Issues identified and corrected through commissioning included the following significant items:

  • Late in the project, the contractors identified that the support AHU had been shipped with the cooling and heating coil locations flipped. This issue could easily have delayed the turnover of the space. However, since a detailed commissioning schedule had been developed and updated weekly, the team was able to come up with a plan in just one meeting that allowed the design team to fly in and review the situation, and for corrections to be made without affecting the overall schedule.
  • The heating hot water skid evidenced various issues, from turning off without alarm to an inability to maintain temperature. Pump control was another problem; a single pump would turn off and the system would be unable to maintain flow and pressure. These issues were subsequently addressed by the manufacturer’s rep for the unit.
  • During commissioning, it became evident that the designed winter AHU start sequence would likely result in inconsistent operation during transition from one AHU to the other. G/BA worked with the design engineer and the controls contractor to identify alternative strategies. Ramp times and preheat coil responses were adjusted to increase cold start-up reliability.

In all, GBA identified more than 60 items needing attention during design-phase commissioning, and 141 items needing attention during the construction phase. A collaborative approach among the commissioning team, the owner, the contractors, and the design team was required to ensure efficient and safe operations and to avoid short- and long-term problems.

The Building Commissioning Association recognized this project with its Building Award (Major Renovation), 2019.

Horizontal photos: Aaron Lindberg

Significant issue with a support AHU found and corrected

Packaged heating hot water skid issue identified and addressed

Winter AHU start sequence corrected

More than 200 items resolved through commissioning of this sensitive facility

BCxA Building Award for commissioning excellence

Lab technician working at a fume hood in a cellular therapy facility.
Lab technicians working in a cell therapy lab.