Hasenstab Architects Designs Building to House Powerful MRI Machine at Cleveland Clinic

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Hasenstab Architects recently designed a 2,300-sqaure-foot building for Cleveland Clinic to house one of the world’s most powerful MRI machines.

A crane lifts an 80,000-pound magnet through the roof at The Cleveland Clinic. Photo by Jerry Leep

Because each [MRI] machine is different, there was no definitive protocol for the design of the isolation system so we ended up designing for the worst case scenario. - David Everhard, Hasenstab Architects

Hasenstab Architects recently designed a 2,300-sqaure-foot building for Cleveland Clinic to house one of the world’s most powerful MRI machines. It is the only 7 Tesla full-body MRI in northeast Ohio, and approximately one in about a dozen in the country. The project required the use of a crane to lower the 80,000-pound magnet, manufactured by Agilent, through an opening in the roof.

“To see the equipment finally arrive and lifted into place was a relief that that the project was finally close to becoming operational,” said David Everhard, principal and project manager for Hasenstab Architects. “The crane operators made the whole process look simple and the control they had when lowering and positioning the unit in the room through the hatch was incredible.”

The delivery of the equipment wasn’t the only challenge of this project; the design of the room that houses the MRI was just as intricate. Poor soil conditions required the use of auger cast pilings to help stabilize the site. Additionally, due to the machine’s extreme sensitivity to vibration, an isolated foundation was critical.

“The challenge is that each 7 Tesla MRI is unique and actually a product of two separate companies, Siemens and Agilent,” Everhard said. “Because each machine is different, there was no definitive protocol for the design of the isolation system so we ended up designing for the worst case scenario.”

As a result, a block of concrete equal to the weight of the magnet was installed to support the MRI and protect against any vibration that could potential mar its high definition images. The floor was also isolated on its perimeter from any part of the building foundation and walls. In addition, the concrete block was designed so that if vibration became a problem, the MRI could be separated and raised from the floor using pneumatic cushions to float it.

The room environment that houses the MRI was also an important consideration during the design process. The room is shielded from all radio interference by a continuous copper skin on the inside of the room. Everything inside the room had to be rigidly attached and could not be made of any iron material that could be drawn toward the magnet or disrupt the sensitive field. Even safety devices such as fire extinguishers must be non-magnetic since any object containing iron can become a dangerous missile if it gets too close to the intense magnetic field.

Siemens, the manufacturer of the MRI’s technical hardware and software, will spend nearly a month calibrating and fine tuning the magnet. Once the final adjustments are complete, Cleveland Clinic with officially move into the facility. Although the 7T MRI has not been approved for clinical use in the U.S., it can be used for medical research involving diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and epilepsy. With the aid of this new machine, neuroscience researchers will be able to see clearer images of the brain, sometimes down to the cellular level.

About Hasenstab Architects
Since 1982, Hasenstab Architects has provided professional design services for the healthcare, educational, science/technology, and commercial industries in Northeast Ohio. Past projects include The Cleveland Clinic’s Wooster Ambulatory Surgery Expansion, The University of Akron’s National Polymer Innovation Center, the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame STEM School, Park West Corporate Center, and the Summa Health System’s Jean B. and Milton N. Cooper Cancer Center. http://www.hasenstabinc.com

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