AIMS Case Study

Antarctic Infrastructure Modernization for Science

The Antarctic Infrastructure Modernization for Science (AIMS) project is a large facility acquisition for the National Science Foundation (NSF) at McMurdo Station, one of three stations operated by the United States Antarctic Program. A major rebuild of portions of the station, the AIMS project will deliver a smaller, more efficient facility footprint. The NSF requested an independent cost estimate (ICE) to provide a cross-check to the contractor’s estimate for the project, assist in negotiations, and assure that the project has been appropriately budgeted and baselined.

Acuity provided project management and cost estimating services for the ICE team that developed the project’s total cost, schedule, and risk. Cost estimating leads in each discipline were responsible for the execution of the cost estimate and the basis of estimate related to those areas in all facilities. The ICE team used bottom-up estimating where possible but relied on parametric estimating for buildings and systems that lacked sufficient information to perform a detailed estimate.

Once the Mii estimate base costs were finalized, the ICE team performed an integrated cost and schedule risk assessment and schedule development/cost loading, calculating, escalation, contingency, and fee for each facility. Acuity’s reconciliation report outlined the process the ICE team used to reconcile the independent estimate with the AIMS project estimate. The report also detailed the team’s conclusions and recommendations for monitoring the project


  • Federal
  • Large Facility


  • McMurdo Station, Antarctica


  • Cost estimating
  • Project management
  • Risk assessment


The team had to consider factors and risks that are unique to Antarctic construction, such as extreme cold, limited daylight, and logistical constraints for material, equipment, and labor.

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