ARC Honorable Mentions

By Staff December 1, 2005

Every year for this competition, CSE gets submissions for a number of outstanding projects. Indeed, each binder often reveals a very neat system, technology or application that’s worthy of being called out. Unfortunately, we can only pick one overall ARC winner per category for project of the year and the individual systems—even when the judging is close, as it was this year. That said, in the following pages we’d like to highlight a handful of projects that included a number of notable features and solutions worth your attention: the renovation of Cleveland’s Howard M. Metzenbaum Courthouse; the renovation of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s South Building in Washington D.C.; the reconstruction of a former office building in suburban New York into a new U.S. headquarters for Nokia; and finally, the reconstruction of a former warehouse for a truly sustainable office for Opsis Architects in Portland, Ore. Next year, perhaps, we will have a separate winner in the reconstruction category. There’s also a good chance you’ll see more of these interesting projects in CSE soon, as they’re stories that are simply too good to sit on.

Howard M. Metzenbaum Courthouse

Westlake, Reed, Leskosky, Cleveland

Breathing new life into an important Cleveland landmark, the architectural/engineering firm of Westlake, Reed, Leskosky lovingly restored and reconstructed the Howard M. Metzenbaum Courthouse, granting it a second chance, ironically enough, as a bankruptcy court. Not only did the Beaux Arts building—originally built as the city’s post office 100 years ago—receive a complete electrical overhaul, but new lighting and lighting control systems will make this building energy efficient for years to come. The building’s HVAC system, housed creatively in unused attic space, also will help with this mission. In particular, its humidification system creates a conditioned space that is allowing the General Services Administration to display rare and recently restored murals by American artist Francis Millet. Specifically, a pair of large, custom AHUs were designed with a two-stage capacity to better serve the fluctuating courthouse population. The building also involved extensive internal reconstruction, converting an interior lightwell into an atrium that also created a means for today’s judicial security requirements of separate public/judicial/criminal circulation. Exploration of this building also unearthed many hidden spaces, including former chimneys, that allowed for unobtrusive distribution of electrical and telecommunications wiring. Indeed, a hidden crawl space above a pair of ornate historic courtrooms allowed mandated fire sprinkling to be installed without destroying aesthetics. For more on this wonderful project, see CSE’s January ’05 cover story .

(Update: The Metzenbaum Courthouse became LEED-certified in spring of 2006.)

Nokia U.S. Corporate Headquarters

Syska Hennessy Group, New York

For years, CSE has carried the banner for integrated M/E/P system design, but the task is more easily said than done. That said, the engineers of the Syska Hennessy Group have succeeded in doing so with the opening of a new U.S.corporate headquarters for Nokia in Harrison, N.Y., just north of the Big Apple. In the renovation of this existing building, the team could not exceed the original structure’s height or floor plan. Furthermore, the building, originally part of an office park, required all new utilties, as these umbilicals were cut years before. To add a little more spice to the job, Nokia wished to move in as soon as possible, meaning 52,000 sq. ft. of the 100,000-sq.-ft. building had to be fast-tracked. As far as the M/E/P system improvements, highlights include the building automation and fire-protection systems. The latter involved a state-of-the-art addressable fire-alarm and smoke exhaust system, which is completely monitored by the BAS. To get approval to do so—often a sticky subject—SHG worked closely and early on with the town fire marshal to ensure approvals and answer questions as they arose. Beyond fire protection, the BAS, besides controlling all mechanical systems, also monitors electric energy consumption and critical infrastructure systems, including UPS and the facility’s emergency power distribution system. UPS, for the record, are single modules that were placed individually in critical server and technology rooms.

U.S.D.A. South Building

Syska Hennessy Group, New York

The modernization of any old building is always interesting, but when you add the colossal size of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s South Building, which spans two city blocks in Washington, D.C., you’ve got quite a project—at least the Syska Hennessy Group does.The massive complex—2.25 million gross sq. ft. to be exact—is not only getting obvious face lifts, like more efficient lighting, it’s getting a complete overhaul of its venerable infrastructure, including its antiquated 208/120-volt electrical distribution system, which is being torn out in favor of a 480/277-volt system, complete with new transformers. Considering that the six-story structure consists of two main buildings connected by seven wings, that’s quite a Herculean labor in and of itself. Equally daunting, the project also involves converting the facility’s existing general fire-alarm system to an addressable and selective fire-alarm evacuation system, and adding general sprinkling throughout. All of this, of course, is being done while the U.S.D.A. is still operational. As a result, the project, which just wrapped up wing four, is being done in multiple phases over 10 years, with a master plan minimizing the impact on employees. In the end, the team also hopes to garner LEED certification, a particularly challenging task in that LEED was not on the books when master planning began. Other major work includes a new chilled-water system.

Opsis Architects

Interface Engineering, Portland, Ore.

Putting its money where its mouth is, Portland architectural firm Opsis wanted a green office from which to deliver equally sustainable buildings for its clients. After acquiring a former 20,000-sq.-ft warehouse, the designer hired another hometown firm—Interface Engineering—to deliver unique HVAC solutions for this unusual space. For this renovation/reconstruction, Interface had some concrete ideas—literally. Keying on Opsis’ desire for sustainable solutions, Interface employed many passive systems, including natural ventilation and daylighting schemes. But the heart of its HVAC system is concrete. For seismic reasons, 12-in.-thick concrete walls had to be added to the building’s perimeter, but this proved a valuable foundation to create a cooling sink that would very much complement the natural ventilation scheme. Augmenting the building’s mass, a concrete slab was also poured over the warehouse’s original wooden floors to accommodate a radiant cooling scheme. All the building’s concrete—a very sustainable material—and most notably the slab, allowed the creation of a sink, where the HVAC system can precool the space during off hours and use the flywheel effect to carry the space through the hottest parts of the day. The temperature of the radiant system itself is fixed to average the previous three days’ average temperature. A closed-circuit cooling tower tube enhancement was employed as the cooling source for the radiant system, but in the spirit of sustainability, the slabs have a maximum cooling capacity of 5 watts per sq. ft. Controls for the building are equally creative. The HVAC system is tied to a mechanized window and shade system where sensors open windows based on fixed external temperatures or when internal CO 2 levels exceed set limits.