ARC Awards

By Staff December 1, 2002

Engineers are sometimes accused of practicing “cookie cutter” design, and that they’re afraid to move beyond the minimum accepted standards and practices. This, of course, is a gross generalization. And in an effort to laud those designers not afraid to deviate from the straight line, so to speak, CSE is proud to present its inaugural “ARC” Awards to engineers we feel are Advancing, Reinvigorating and Cultivating excellence in engineering.

We chose the concept of an arc for a couple of reasons: 1) its very definition, “deviating from a straight line,” as defined by the American Heritage Dictionary; and 2) its visual symbolization of taking something from point A to point B by literally reaching over given obstacles.

As with many awards and competitions, maintaining that the projects selected are indeed the “best” by far is clearly a stretch without the participation of the majority of the engineering community. Instead, we wanted to focus on design elements we believe either help advance the industry as a whole or inspire others to try new ideas and technologies.

Specifically, we asked competition participants to submit projects for consideration on a number of criteria: unique building systems; use of new or unusual technologies; energy efficiency; sustainability; system and interdisciplinary integration and interaction; architectural considerations; innovative solutions to various project challenges; and ultimately a subjective measure—did we feel “wowed.”

Originally, we intended to honor projects in the categories of Institutional, Industrial and Commercial building. However, we thought it best to feature what we felt were the best projects. Again, award selection was based on key elements, opposed to a solution as a whole or even a building as a whole, a departure from CSE’s project awards of the past.

That being said, we present a brief look at three projects demonstrating excellence in engineering: The XM Satellite Radio facility in Washington D.C., a creative reuse by GHT Limited, of a century-old printing plant for a medium of a new century; Detroit’s airport expansion, the McNamara Terminal/Northwest WorldGateway, for creative engineering solutions on the part of the SmithGroup to meet the challenges posed by innovative architecture and ultimately make the airport experience more bearable; and last, but not least, Kling and its M/E design of Merrill Lynch’s new corporate campus in Hopewell, N.J., simply an example of rock-solid energy efficiency in action.

As is always the case, we had some tough decisions, and we also wish to present merit awards to three projects exhibiting innovative components: CUH2A and its Integrated Nautral Science Center at Haverford College; ESD and its Pine Meadows Corporate Center in suburban Chicago; and H.F. Lenz’ chilled water plant for the Social Security Administration in Woodlawn, Md.


Jim Crockett


Pine Meadows Corporate Center

Chicago-based ESD’s Pine Meadows Corporate Center in Libertyville, Ill., is a fine example of innovative office construction, notably the use of underfloor air. One of the most interesting aspects of the project features operable windows, a seeming no-no for a controlled environment. To make the scheme work, each window contains a wireless window position-monitoring sensor that transmits a signal informing the building automation system as to whether a window is open or closed. When two or more windows are open in any fan-powered box—each serving a group of six windows—the BAS instructs the box to close its primary damper and turn the fan off. For safety purposes, if any space temperature drops below 55°F, an alarm is sent to the BAS informing building personnel.

Integrated Natural Science Center

In many ways, Princeton, N.J.-based CUH2A’s Integrated Natural Science Center at Haverford College, Haverford, Pa., is like any university laboratory facility around the country. But, it features a very different ventilation system. CUH2A was directed to make the facility as energy-efficient as possible—a challenge considering there were more than 100 fume hoods in the 187,000-sq.-ft. facility. Instead of a traditional VAV system, CUH2A decided to implement a number of separate make-up air and comfort-conditioning systems, which not only led to improved thermal performance, but also a simpler control scheme and reduced ductwork, lowering construction costs. The team also turned to an older, yet effective technology—heat wheels—in lieu of a sensible heat recovery device, a decision that required a lot of care and consideration, but ultimately paid off. Using hygroscopic media, the technology allowed an extremely small amount of fume exhaust air to be returned to the space by the supply stream.

Social Security Administration Chiller Plant

H.F. Lenz of Johnstown, Pa., is to be commended for their innovative use of 3D modeling in developing the mechanical systems for a retrofit of the U.S. Social Security Administration’s chiller plant in Woodlawn, Md. The firm developed highly detailed models of the existing equipment layout—including piping, equipment, conduit and structural members—to work through space constraints while precisely placing new equipment. It also allowed designers to verify pipe routings, maintain clearances for future equipment installations and identify phasing scheme to allow the plant to remain in service during construction.

Furthermore, the models provided the General Services Administration and Social Security officials the ability to get detailed visualization during the design phase. The models also facilitated the project’s complex construction documents, as contractors were better able to understand actual site conditions, resulting in less confusion during the bidding process, and more accurate and competitive bids.