University of Minnesota - NOvA Far Detector Facility

Location: 
Ash River, Minnesota
Total Project Cost: 
$27.2 million (building) / $240+ million (equipment)
Size: 
39,550 SF
A&P Role: 
CMGC/CMAR

The NOvA Far Detector Facility is a new international physics laboratory, and the site of an upcoming experiment that will help scientists understand the origins of the universe. The experiment, which begins collecting data in 2013, will involve the study of neutrinos, subatomic particles that are among the fundamental building blocks of matter. The construction of the detector facility involved many unique logistical challenges related to the remote project site and the huge, very specialized equipment required for the experiment. The project involved building a 3.5-mile access road and supplying power to the isolated project site, blasting 40 feet into the granite to create a football field-sized space for the detector enclosure and, finally, building the massive 350-foot-long concrete facility. BIM technology was critical in identifying logistical and scheduling issues, demonstrating how the complex building components would fit together, and designing a real-time communication plan for stakeholders. A unique application of BIM technology led to the development of 3D laser scanning, which helped minimize layout time for excavation.