Proton Therapy Center at UAB

In 2020, an estimated 28,570 Alabamians* will be diagnosed with cancer. Proton therapy, the next generation of radiation oncology, reduces the dose of radiation to the healthy surrounding tissue and nearby organs which leads to fewer side effects, positive long-term outcomes and improved quality of life in patients.

The first proton therapy center opened in Alabama with a partnership between Proton International and UAB in March 2020.  As one of only 36 centers in the United States, Proton International at UAB will help thousands of Alabamians receive proton therapy locally and further positions UAB as a pioneer of advanced medical technologies.

UAB selected the site on 20th Street for its proximity to other UAB facilities where patients receive medical services and to make use of a site vacant since the demolition of the Parliament House Motor Hotel.

BHATE was selected by Proton International as their geotechnical engineering consultant for our extensive experience on UAB’s campus and in Birmingham. Due to the sensitivity of medical equipment that would be installed, Proton International chose BHATE to recommend the site preparation and foundation design to account for a near zero differential settlement of the building.

To ensure the safety of the center’s staff, the structural design of the building included mass concrete elements up to 10 feet thick to provide radiation shielding from the treatment room. Installation tolerances for the proton equipment required Brasfield & Gorrie to ensure placement of the mass concrete elements within one-hundredth of an inch of the design parameters.

Throughout construction, BHATE provided testing and quality assurance to ensure building materials and soils met the specification requirements.

The three-story building has over 20,000 square feet of clinical space that includes the 90-ton cyclotron machine that produces the proton beam. The $25 million cyclotron, nicknamed Emma, was brought by ship from Germany to Georgia and then transported to UAB by a specialized truck with 20 axles, 78 wheels and drivers in front and back. A heavy-lift crane deposited Emma into the facility through the roof. The building’s exterior features UAB’s signature brick facade, metal panels, a large entry canopy and a living green wall.

BHATE is proud to have been part of the Proton International at UAB that will help thousands of Alabamians in their fight against cancer. The Proton International Center at UAB earned the 1st place “Excellence in Construction Award” from the Associated Buildings and Contractors.

*  American Cancer Society

Our services on the Proton Therapy Center at UAB site included:

  • Site reconnaissance and geologic map review
  • Subsurface utility scanning at the proposed boring locations using ground penetrating radar (GPR)
  • Mobilization of a truck-mounted drill rig
  • Standard penetration test (SPT) soil test borings including rock coring at 10 locations
  • Laboratory analyses to evaluate soil moisture content and index properties
  • Preparation of geotechnical report
  • Materials testing of concrete, steel, rebar and soils


About BHATE Geosciences:

BHATE Geosciences Corporation (BHATE) provides geotechnical, construction materials testing and environmental engineering applications with quality, service, excellence and safety.  BHATE was founded on the belief and commitment that we will serve our clients better than anyone in the industry.

From our beginning in 1975 in Birmingham, BHATE has grown to prominence and is recognized in the professional and construction community for state-of-the-art value engineering applications. These applications have resulted in technical advancement and effective cost savings in construction.

BHATE operates from our headquarters in Birmingham with offices throughout Alabama, Florida and Mississippi.