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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

The University of Arizona Landscape Evolution Observatory

The University of Arizona, in the search of understanding Nature and the different mechanisms that occur in the landscape, has built the Landscape Evolution Observatory (LEO) at Biosphere 2, in Oracle, Arizona. LEO is the world’s largest weighing lysimeter that studies the interaction of water, temperature, soil and vegetation, amongst other environmental elements, on three full-size-scale hill slopes.

LEO consists of three identical hill slopes, each uniquely constructed of large steel planting tray structures, built inside an existing large space-framed greenhouse and supported over an existing elevated concrete floor structure.

Each of the three hill slope sections consists of the tray, a 38-foot wide by 100-foot long steel box open on the top, sloping 10-degrees in the longitudinal direction with a changing transverse slope along the tray’s length to form the ridges and a valley channel simulating a hill slope. Supporting the tray are ten large uniaxial load cells centered on the top of each column and the substructure, a system of beams and steel braces that connect the columns aligned directly over existing concrete columns of the basement structure. The third component of the structure is the personnel transporter, a mobile steel structure similar to a gantry crane for human transport that traverses over the tray, covering its full width and length thus allowing scientists to monitor LEO without disturbing the soil.

Many ideas were explored to solve the need to provide a safe way for the scientists to explore the contents of LEO and the use of technology combined with engineering expertise from M3 makes this project a success. The use of laser scanning technology to recreate a model of the existing building precisely determined the dimensions of the available space, allowing M3 to maximize the use of space and eliminate interferences during construction. Additionally, the development of steel shop drawings using Tekla Structures provided by M3 along with the design documents saved time and money during the construction phase as the detailing complexity and any clashes were solved early in the design phase.

The University of Arizona Yuma Agricultural Center

Significantly upgrading the research and outreach capabilities of the current University of Arizona agricultural program in Yuma by replacing existing facilities, the design of the Yuma Agricultural Center is organized to provide efficient use of laboratory space and regularization of building systems that will serve the current research needs, allow for ease of maintenance, and provide for future flexibility in adapting to changes in laboratory use.

Fitting within an existing shell of a faceless metal building, the design of the Yuma Agricultural Center was developed to minimize re-work of the exterior envelope by providing an independent public façade in the form of a curving entry screen that becomes the iconography of the building, metaphorically representing the adjacent rows of agricultural fields and undulating Colorado River,  prefiguring the curve of the main organizing “way finding” wall internal to the facility, and becomes the backdrop for landscape elements and building signage.

The University of Arizona Steward Observatory Optical Test Tower          

This optical test tower is a vibration isolated, vertically oriented, optical bench located inside the polishing lab of the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory Mirror Laboratory (SOML).

The project consisted of removing the existing 75-foot tall tower structure, and replacing it with a 97-foot tall steel framework suitable for testing the 8.4 meter Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) primary mirrors. The original foundation, air bags, free floating concrete base and concrete piers all remained intact. The interior and exterior of the tower enclosure known as the “thimble” also required modification. The interior volume was increased to accommodate the required tower frame size and access to the top of the structure.

M3 provided a structural and natural frequency analysis of a steel-frame optical test tower for SOML. The tower is a braced frame structure consisting primarily of square rectangular tube steel members. There are four stationary platforms for test equipment and three hanging “baskets” for instruments capable of moving in both horizontal directions. The baskets each have a payload capacity of 8,000 pounds. At the top of the tower a 12,000 pound mirror cell is supported and transmits a light path envelope to a mirror at the base. A retractable floor is required above the fourth level and used to access the laser tracker plus a hoist system.

The success of this project is attributed to a team effort of SOML, The University of Arizona, the contractors and M3 all working together on this very unique structure built inside the polishing lab that remained operational during construction. M3’s BIM steel fabrication drawings using Tekla Structures allowed fabrication, erection and fit up to the existing columns without any problems.

Phelps Dodge Central Analytical Service Center

The Central Analytical Service Center is a fully automated copper ore sample testing and analysis laboratory.  It is the first of its kind for Phelps Dodge in the United States.  This centralized lab replaced six scattered older lab facilities serving operations in Arizona and New Mexico.

The facility has state of the art systems providing automated robotic analysis, solution analysis, cathode analysis, and processing of specialty samples.

The design team lead by M3 included IMP, a South Africa/German robotics design and fabrication firm and Lang Wyatt Construction, a Tucson General Contractor.  This team along with the client designed and constructed this sophisticated and complex facility under a fast track approach to meet a rigorous start-up schedule.