top of page



Mainstay was a prominent part of the design team responsible for the design of the pharmaceutical manufacturing greenfield New Aseptic Center for Final Processing facility for Bio-Manguinhos (BioM) in Rio de Janerio, Brazil.  BioM is part of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, a large state run pharmaceutical endeavor that is focused on improving public health in Brazil, South America, and around the world.  The facilities focus offered unique challenges due to the overall scale of the project and project requirements, site logistics, and timing.  Mainstay assisted in phase one design for new site buildings which included, an administration building, site gate access, shipping and receiving warehouses, a packaging building, and the LAV (Live Attenuated Vaccine) Filling buildings. The facility was designed in a courtyard motif with the central courtyard being one story higher than the perimeter of the facility.  This design offered two central curving spines that acted as communication spaces between the buildings for utilities, material transfer, and personnel.


The size and scale of the project mandated large versatile column bays to accommodate future growth.  In addition, upper levels required high live load capacities (up to 300 psf) to accommodate production activities as well as mechanical system production support.  The ground level floor slabs were steel framed over crawl spaces.  Upper level spaces were supported by long span steel trusses allowing for the ground level space to be free of columns.  Trusses were full story high supporting both the roof framing as well as hanging support of the mechanical upper levels.  Due to the tropical location of the project where extreme rain fall totals are possible, a curved roof was selected to easily shed water.  In order to maintain proportion and get the added benefit of using air as an insulator, the roof was constructed as a tall 12-meter-high space that extended (nearly 42 feet) above the 2nd floor at its peak.  To maximize functionality of the process and support level, they too have tall story heights. The ground to first floor story height is 6000mm (approximately 19’-8”) and the 1st to second floor is 7800mm (approximately 25’-7”).


The most significant logistical challenge was timing.  The size and scale of the project would require a lot of construction manpower primarily because the original intent was to construct the complex using concrete, a building material more readily used in the Brazilian tropical climate.  Project construction would have occurred concurrently with the Olympic Games, causing a shortage of labor.  Early in the project, the use of structural steel was posed to assist in schedule shortening as well as the labor shortage challenges.


Other steel challenges were focused on the large tariff laws of Brazil.  Costs associated with imported steel mandated that the steel be milled and fabricated in Brazil.  Unfortunately, due to the low demand of steel in Brazil, the largest rolled domestic shape is a W24x72.  As a result, and due to the large column loading, steel columns were designed as built up members.


The lateral system of the building was designed as a steel ordinary concentrically braced steel frames. With Rio being in low seismic area, wind loads controlled the design of the lateral system.  The presence of a stair tower on the North and East side of the structure, a support wing on the West side, and a link structure to the south added complication to the lateral system.  The roofs of these structures landed several feet below the height of the main roof.  As a result, it was necessary to design a “belt truss” system around the exterior perimeter of the main building to tie the appendages back to the main diaphragm.


Site challenges mandated that the buildings were founded on steel H piles with reinforced concrete pile caps.  Due to water table issues, the site surrounding the building will be raised up to 20 feet with imported fill.  To eliminate the need to fill below the building, the ground level was designed as a supported floor with a crawl space below.  Not only did this reduce the amount of fill required, the crawl space created facilitated the distribution of utilities around the building.


Unique and unexpected challenges drove the structural design of these buildings to become one of Mainstay’s biggest and most exciting projects to date.




Rio de Janerio, Brazil




Structural Engineering



bottom of page