Michigan State University Facility for Rare Isotope Beams

Facility for Rare Isotope Beams

One mission of the Department of Energy Office of Science is to discover, explore and understand all forms of nuclear matter. This endeavor employs a linear accelerator (Linac) that propels heavy proton beams up to half the speed of light. Plans for Michigan State to accommodate the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) notably required a structure to house a unique "folded" Linac – a variation on the apparatus that better suits the dense college campus.


Michigan State University


East Lansing, MI


Science & Technology, Academic Research, Government Research, Structural Engineering, MEP Engineering, Architecture, Interiors, Lab Planning, Landscape Architecture, Programming, Civil Engineering


230,000 sq ft

Facility for Rare Isotope Beams

Scheduled to be operational as of 2020, SmithGroup's design for FRIB locates the Linac in a compact below-grade tunnel, and boasts sophisticated and robust mechanical and electrical systems to accommodate the heavy loads of the equipment integral to this endeavor. The surface support building that caps the project features an articulated façade, conveying to the public the essence of what lies beneath.

Facility for Rare Isotope Beams

FRIB's program also required special elements incorporated into the design to shield against radiation. These include massive concrete walls – some with rare high-density aggregate –rolling steel shielding doors, and 10-ton steel blocks formed from melted-down nuclear battleships.