To the people of Haiti, the 20,000-square-foot Medika Mamba processing plant represents a chance to provide food to a underserved country. The facility, a pre-engineered metal building, was designed and constructed by our team and takes into account seismic conditions.
To an American, it looks like an ordinary, one-story, pre-engineered metal building. But to the people of Haiti, the 20,000-square-foot Medika Mamba processing plant that Burns & McDonnell is designing represents much, much more.
It represents an opportunity to save lives in a country where 20 percent of children are malnourished. It means a living wage to 1,000 peanut farmers among the 85 percent of Haitians who are unemployed. It signifies hope in one of the world's poorest countries, recovering from the 2010 earthquake.
Burns & McDonnell St. Louis is donating the architectural, civil and structural design for the $3 million plant to Meds & Foods for Kids (MFK), a St. Louis-based nonprofit that produces therapeutic foods for malnourished children in Haiti.
Chief among those foods is Medika Mamba, a ready-to-use, peanut-based food that is currently produced in a house in Cap Haitien, Haiti, according to Dr. Patricia Wolff, the St. Louis pediatrician who founded MFK in 2003. Within six weeks of starting treatment, 85 percent of children on Medika Mamba recover.
When complete, the new plant will allow the nonprofit to boost production from 80 to 800 metric tons a year, increasing the number of Haitian children it can treat for malnutrition tenfold to 80,000.
"We're hoping not only to address the urgent problem of childhood malnutrition, but also to set a new national standard of excellence in food production in Haiti," says Dr. Wolff.
Out-of-the-Ordinary Design Considerations
Designing a food plant for a third-world country raises issues that engineers in the Midwest don't normally face, says Ron Jones, the St. Louis Process & Industrial Group practice leader.
"Because the power grid in Haiti is not reliable, the plant needs its own on-site power generation," explains Jones. Normally, generators would be outside a plant, but given the high risk of theft, they are incorporated into the building's design.
"This is a food-grade manufacturing plant, so we had to pay special attention to clean spaces design and material flows as well as efficient allocation of production and warehouse spaces," explains Ken Francis, who is leading the Burns & McDonnell design team of Jennifer Rehg and Tanya Kwiatkowski.
"The design had to take into account seismic conditions, climate, and available labor in rural Haiti as well as materials sourcing and site access. Because Haiti has no building code, Burns & McDonnell used Florida's Miami-Dade County codes to ensure a safe, robust design," says Tim O'Mara,
Burns & McDonnell engineering manager.
MFK aims to break ground on the plant later this year and expects to become financially self-sustaining within five years.
For more information, contact Ron Jones, 314-682-1571.
For more information about Meds & Food for Kids, visit http://mfkhaiti.org/.