WI Institute of Medical Research

J. P. Cullen & Sons, Inc. was the concrete contractor at the new, multi-phase Interdisciplinary Research Complex, an addition to the University of Wisconsin Medical School. The estimated cost of the project is $265 million, with the first phase of construction reaching approximately $135 million.

Phase I (East Tower): 280,000-square-feet of labs, 73,000-square-feet of imaging space, 60,000-square-feet vivarium, and 14,000-square-feet gross anatomy study area. Remaining space of the 437,600 square-foot first phase will be used for storage, mechanical systems, and services.

Concrete Detail: The project consists of an East Tower which has a basement, 1st floor offices, 2nd floor mechanical space, and floors 3-7 are labs. In the south portion of the East Tower there were four shafts. One elevator shaft, one stair shaft, two sets of three-car elevators, and a lobby area extend up to a 10th floor. The Wedge portion of the project is between the Center Tower and East Tower and only extends two floors.

Center Tower (CT) is the furthest west building and is only three stories; however, the building is constructed for future vertical expansion and will someday extend up 10 more floors. The basement of CT is shell space, 1st floor is the Vivarium; 2nd floor is mechanical space.

Another area to the south of the project site is termed RTX and connects IRC to the UW Medical School building. In the RTX, Cullen formed up a large vault for the Linac. This is where the large 8-foot deep beam is located and a portion of what will later become another vault called the Tomo vault.

Between the RTX and CT is a 3-hour firewall. This is very unique at the B1-L1 level. This wall was detailed to be poured as three separate walls along a radius, a 2’-6” section of wall and then a 1’-0” section of wall that is to be completely separate from the rest of the structure and then the south face is a separate 6” wall. The 1’-0” section of firewall is designed to be separate so in the event of a fire in either the IRC or RTX the fire will not affect the other structure because they are technically not attached. Above L1 this firewall is constructed of 3-hour rated masonry as well.

Cullen installed 5,220 embeds in the concrete for precast, curtain wall, masonry relief angles, handrail, and miscellaneous attachments. We also installed 784 anchor bolts for tube steel columns at the penthouse level and also on level 2 the mechanical space.

One unique aspect of the project was the concrete columns. These specialized columns were specified to receive higher strength concrete mixes of 4,000 psi, 5,000 psi, 6,000 psi, 8,000 psi, and 10,000 psi. This complicated the pouring by having to ensure each column received the correct mixture. This also complicated the deck pours. The detail in the structural drawings indicated that if the column above the deck was a higher strength mix, that higher strength mix needed to be poured at the column including two feet around the column in the deck. This required a tremendous amount of coordination among team members when ordering the concrete, as well as, added coordination between the concrete pump and tower crane bucket.

In addition to the concrete structure, Cullen also poured a majority of the slab-on-grade in the basement, installed a topping slab which consisted of 4” of concrete over 4” of rigid insulation to block noise and vibration in the Center Tower and Wedge, all the equipment pads, poured and finished concrete in the metal pan stairs, and a change order was issued to bring the 4 shafts in the south portion of the East Tower including the Lobby area up 2 more floors from level 8 to level 10.

We also erected two sets of Collaboration Stairs, which is a unique cast-in-place stair that is completely exposed concrete with architectural details or dimples. The sets of stairs are supported by a main handrail beam that extends between two floors and were cast-in-place in two separate pours. The other cast-in-place stair is located in the Wedge and is termed Stair D. This stair extends from the basement level to first floor and is unique to because it is structurally supported by a “stem” wall and a beam in the stair slab. This stair was erected in three separate pours.


Foundation: Consits of simple spread footings, stepped pad footings, very large mat foundations, 60-foot deep and 60 inch diameter caissons
Largest single mat footing pour: 1200 cubic yards
Length of underground (deepest tunnel is 30 feet under ground water) Utility Tunnel: 830 feet
Thickest wall poured: 4’-0” thick 3 layer firewall RTX B1-L1
Largest Beam: 11’-0” wide x 8’-0” deep at RTX-W L1 Slab
Superstructure is designed for vibration resistance
30 different concrete mixes
Total Cubic Yards of concrete: 57,000
Total tons of rebar: 4,850 Tons (9.7 million lbs)

Project Details

Interdisciplinary Research Complex

Madison, Wisconsin
Owner UW Hospital & Clinics
Selection Bid
Architect Zimmerman Design Group
Timeline Phase 1: October 2006 - November 2007
Size 57,000 Cubic Yards of Concrete
Contract Format Lump Sum
Self-Performed 100%

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