University of Texas Tower Air Handling Unit Replacement

System overhaul: University of Texas Tower Air Handling Unit Replacement; EEA Consulting Engineers


The University of Texas at Austin main building (the U.T. Tower) is shown during installation of the new air-handling unit. Courtesy: Flintco, the general contractor on the project. (Click to enlarge)Project name: University of Texas Tower Air Handling Unit Replacement

Location: Austin, Texas

Firm name: EEA Consulting Engineers

Project type, building type: System overhaul, school (college, university)

Project duration: 1.5 years

Project completion date: April 30, 2007

Project budget for mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection engineering only: $77,000

Engineering challenges

Location and space constraints for the new equipment: The tower was occupied and existing equipment remained in use for duration of the project. There was limited access to the area where existing and new equipment were located. This area is near the top of the tower, behind the walls that support the clock facings.

Time constraint for the switch over to the new system: The two-week Christmas break between the fall and spring semesters provided the only period that the tower was not occupied. The transition from the old air handling unit to the new one was scheduled for that period, which meant that all aspects of the project absolutely had to be completed and become fully operational during the break.


Location and space constraints for the new equipment: The solution was to remove a portion of the wall below the north clock facing to allow access. A new equipment platform and stair system was constructed to support and access the new equipment in the tall void space inside the top of the tower. A crane was used to lift the equipment and material into place as well as to remove and replace the 2,700-lb wall stones.

Time constraint for the switch over to the new system: This entailed close coordination between EEA, the owner, the subconsultants, and the contractor. All parties committed early in the project to meet deadlines and to quickly address any issues that might arise. As a result, the switch over proceeded smoothly and the tower reopened as scheduled. Following the switch, final installation was completed.

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