Press Release: 05.25.2015

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Breaks Ground on National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility

Team members from McCarthy Mortensen NBAF A Joint Venture (McCarthy/Mortenson) broke ground yesterday on the final and largest phase of the $835 million National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF). The construction team was joined by representatives from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S Department of Agriculture, the state of Kansas, Kansas State University, and the community of Manhattan, Kan.

“The NBAF will be a key component in our joint effort with USDA to advance research, which is critical to the security of our nation’s food supply and agricultural economy,” said Under Secretary Dr. Reginald Brothers with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate. “This critical step also heightens our focus on recently initiated efforts to develop strategic partnerships with both private and public entities in the animal health arena to better leverage the research capabilities of the NBAF once it is operational.”

Awarded to the McCarthy/Mortenson team by the DHS Science and Technology Directorate, this project represents the initiation of the third and final phase of construction of the NBAF. The award is a modification to the existing $107 million contract for the team made up of St. Louis-based McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. and Minneapolis-based Mortenson Construction, which was chosen in 2009 to perform construction management services for the NBAF. The McCarthy/Mortenson team was selected through a best value competitive process based on the team’s expertise in constructing biosafety facilities and its experience in the local area.

With funding provided in 2012 by the state of Kansas, McCarthy/Mortenson completed site preparation and is currently building an 87,000-square-foot, free-standing Central Utility Plant (CUP) to house boilers, chillers, emergency diesel generators and other support elements for the main laboratory facility. The CUP is scheduled to be completed in October of this year. The $80 million CUP was funded with $40 million in federal appropriations and $40 million in gift funding from the state of Kansas. In total, the state of Kansas is providing $307 million and the city of Manhattan $5 million toward the total acquisition cost for the NBAF inclusive of planning, design, construction and commissioning of $1.25 billion facility.

“Our team is pleased to continue to partner with DHS and the NBAF Design Partnership to construct the main laboratory building, additional outbuildings and associated site work at the NBAF,” said McCarthy Senior Vice President Jon Jacobsmeyer. “We are ready to apply our expertise and technology to deliver this unparalleled technical research facility for the United States government.”

The NBAF project will contain 574,000 gross square feet, including biosafety level (BSL) 2, 3 and 4 shared research space to be constructed on the 29-acre site. The facility will house advanced research, diagnostic testing and validation, countermeasure development (i.e., vaccines and anti-viral therapies) and diagnostic training for high-consequence livestock diseases. It will also provide the necessary infrastructure to improve understanding and preparedness for potential bioterrorism employing foreign animal disease and zoonotic disease pathogens that may be accidentally or intentionally introduced in the United States and will develop capabilities to improve protection against such threats.

The joint venture team brings extensive knowledge and experience in the construction of BSL-3E, 3Ag and 4 facilities to the project. McCarthy has completed similar biosafety level projects for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Ames, Iowa, and Boston University in Boston. Mortenson Construction brings long-standing, local experience in the Manhattan, Kan., area, along with the experience of working on a similar laboratory project at the University of Colorado Denver’s Research II in Aurora, Colo. The NBAF Design Partnership (NDP) is the architect and engineer on the project.

The team is using the latest construction technology and tools on this project, including Virtual Design and Construction (VDC), allowing the team to build the entire project virtually prior to actual construction.

Construction of the NBAF is to be completed in 2020 with full operational capability achieved in 2022.

For more information on the project, visit

About McCarthy
McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. is one of the nation’s premier commercial construction companies. Founded in 1864, the firm is currently the 9th largest builder in America (Engineering News-Record, May 2014) and has been building in the science and technology market for more than 50 years. This resume of experience includes: research facilities; life sciences; nanotechnology; pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical processing; data centers; high containment labs (BSL-3, BSL-4 and Potent Compound); cleanrooms; agri-business; and biomedical facilities. In addition to the Department of Homeland Security, McCarthy provides services throughout the federal sector, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Energy, US Army Corps of Engineers, Naval Facilities Engineering Command and Indian Health Service. The company is working on government projects totaling $3.2 billion nationwide. Headquartered in St. Louis, McCarthy has offices in Atlanta; Collinsville, Ill.; Kansas City, Kan.; Denver; Phoenix; Las Vegas; Dallas, Houston; Albuquerque; and San Diego, Newport Beach, San Francisco, San Jose and Sacramento, Calif. McCarthy is 100 percent employee owned. More information about the company is available online at or by following the company on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

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