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SBN Near Detector Building

Holabird & Root

Posted: August 31, 2018 | Projects

Fermilab, located in Batavia, Illinois, is a premier laboratory for particle physics and accelerator research funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. Since 1967, Fermilab has provided physicists with the tools to study the smallest building blocks of matter, and the results have included the discovery of the top quark and tau neutrino.

In the 2010s, Fermilab embarked on an ambitious program to further explore the most abundant particle in the universe: the neutrino. This program, using the existing Fermilab neutrino beamline, required the construction of two new buildings separated by about 500 meters, as well as the associated site development. Each building was designed to house the unique program for two exceptionally different neutrino detectors, as well as reflect the forward-looking vision of the Short Baseline Neutrino program while also respecting the unique architectural context of the Fermilab site.

The SBN Near Detector Building is to contain and support the future of neutrino detector research. It will house a 112-ton liquid argon neutrino detector, which will employ the same technology as the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE), making it an ideal test bed for future detector technology while providing data for the SBN program.

The majority of the building is below ground in order to align the detector to the beamline. The bottom of the detector hall is over 30 feet below grade, which necessitated a considerable amount of excavation, adding to the challenge of minimizing the impact on the adjacent wetlands.

The architecture responds to the need to accommodate the large detector and related materials to support detector assembly. The plan is divided into three areas: the service bay at grade, the detector hall 34 feet below grade, and an instrumentation mezzanine level.

The high bay structure has a 30-ton crane and a 22-foot-wide by 32-foot-high horizontally bi-folding door sized to accommodate the large detector components. Ample natural light is provided by a large expanse of translucent Kalwall panels. Vision glass at the ground level allows for views both into and out from the facility. Once the detector is assembled, 5-foot-thick concrete shielding blocks will be placed over the detector hall opening.

The architectural design quality was driven by the need to satisfy the requirements of the U.S. Department of Energy as well as the collaborators of each country participating in this experiment. Instead of buildings that resembled warehouses, the buildings were so impressive that the Association of Licensed architects awarded Holabird and Root a Gold Award through ALA’s Design Awards Program.


Building Envelope: Metl-Span
Roofing: Johns Manville
Entrances, Storefronts & Curtain Wall: Tubelite, Schweiss Doors
Translucent Panels: Kalwall
Flooring: Milliken, Daltile
Lighting: Williams, Lithonia
Daylighting/Skylights: Bristol Daylighting Systems


Architect & Structural Engineer
Holabird & Root
140 S. Dearborn Street, #500
Chicago, IL 60603

Mechanical & Electrical Engineer
IMEG (formerly KJWW)
1100 Warrenville Road, #400W
Naperville, IL 60523

Civil Engineer
Crawford Murphy & Tilly, Inc.
550 Commons Drive, #116
Aurora, IL 60504

Cost Estimator
1815 S. Meyers Road, #1070
Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181

General Contractor
Vissering Construction Company
175 Benchmark Industrial Drive
Streator, IL 61364

Date Bid: Oct 2015
Construction Period: Jan 2016 to May 2017
Total Square Feet: 5,311
Site: 1 acre.
Number of Buildings: One.
Building Sizes: Basement, 1,382; first floor, 3,329; mezzanine, 600; total, 5,311 square feet.  
Building Height: Basement, 34′; first floor, 35′; mezzanine, 12′; total, 35′.  
Basic Construction Type: New.
Foundation: Cast-in-place, reinforced concrete, slab-on-grade. 
Exterior Walls: Metal siding, translucent panels.
Roof: Built-up. 
Floors: Concrete. 
Interior Walls: Metal panels.
KBTU/SF/yr: 107.1

View full project details in magazine issue September-October 2018.