Areas of Expertise


University of Miami
Virginia Key, Florida

Additional Details

Project Size 75,000 GSF
Project Cost $47,000,000
Delivery Method Construction Manager
Completion 2013 - anticipated

UM Marine Tech & Life Sciences 

This world class research facility is the culmination of a NIST Grant and the University of Miami’s continuing commitment to marine research at the RSMAS campus on Virginia Key. The building integrates seawater labs, traditional wet labs, and a one-of-a-kind SUSTAIN oceanographic research component while establishing an iconic landmark at the gateway to Virginia Key. And the immediate adjacency to the Miami Seaquarium posed many challenges.

Moses Engineering working with C7A (Cambridge, Mass.), led the design of the traditional laboratory MEPF systems, as well as the seawater system and the SUSTAIN wind tunnel. Watch the wind tunnel in action by clicking this link: New Science of Storm Surge Weather Channel Profile (Video). The $2 million seawater system is literally the “life safety system” for the aplysia, fish and coral tanks. UM rears aplysia as the definitive neurobiological research platform world-wide. Aplysia live in a 52°F seawater environment; not Miami conditions. Moses Engineering designed a one-pass seawater life support system at both 52°F and ambient (corals and fish). The system draws water from the bay, passes thru settling tanks and glass bead filtration and then is transferred to the lab building penthouse for final filtration, cooling, heat recovery and gravity distribution to research tanks via break tanks. All systems are N+1 redundant, including piping. An A line and a B line are needed to alternate as needed to kill seawater growth in the piping. The seawater system is equipped with quality monitoring sensors, including the presence of oil.

The complexity of the seawater system is only exceeded by the wind tunnel. The investigator, Dr. Brian Haus, required a wind tunnel generating Category 5 hurricane forces over his wind-wave tank. The wind-wave tank is an acrylic 20’W x 6’ D x 60’L tank that includes a hydraulic wave-maker and a “beach” for testing. The tank is half full of water with the upper three feet utilized to bring Category 5 hurricane forces to bear on the waves. Crazy research. Moses Engineering designed a 1750 hp vane-axial fan (nine feet in diameter) to provide 660,000 cfm at 12 in. w.g. This develops 10,000 fpm at the wind-wave tank. And the wind-wave tank needed to be heated and/or cooled to 90°F/54°F.

Moses Engineering designed the system in concert with McNamara Salvia (structural engineers) and UM College of Engineering (CFD analysis). Industrial ductwork (20’ x 25’) required structural analysis. The aerodynamic CFD analyses provided vanes, vortex generators and honeycombs. Custom designed duct silencers (Vibro-Acoustics) addressed noise concerns for the immediate neighbor, Miami Seaquarium. And Moses Engineering coordinated all efforts. The impact of a weekly four hour 1750hp fan operation on demand charges was evident to Moses Engineering. Therefore, controls and a 4160V electrical design were developed to transfer the 1750hp wind tunnel fan to the site emergency generator for operation above 15Hz. A 2.5 MW generator was included in the design to serve the entire campus given Virginia Key’s vulnerability to hurricanes.

Moses Engineering responded to program-specific requirements; and led the development of those requirements to systems that would meet the Owner’s needs. The lesson here is not that Moses Engineering is a seawater or wind tunnel engineer, but that we do two things: 1) LISTEN, 2) do INNOVATIVE engineering!



Click here to read the Washinton Post Article, Miami’s indoor Category 5 hurricane

Click here to read the article "Inside the World's Largest Hurricane Simulator" from mental_floss

Click Award of Merit University of Miami Marine Technology Life Sciences Seawater Research Facility, Miami


The Marine Technology Life Sciences Seawater Complex is two interconnected buildings that together form a foundation for innovative hurricane science and biomedical and biological research.


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