Lizardos Engineering Assocs. PC: MEP Infrastructure Modernization for Four 44-Story Apartment Buildings in New York City

System overhaul at an engineered multi-dwelling/retail complex/restaurant.

August 14, 2014

Engineering firm: Lizardos Engineering Assocs. PC
2014 MEP Giants rank: 77
Project: MEP Infrastructure Modernization for Four 44-Story Apartment Buildings in New York City
Address: Bronx, N.Y., U.S.
Building type: Engineered multi-dwelling/retail complex/restaurant
Project type: System overhaul (e.g., mechanical system upgrade, fire protection system overhaul, etc.)
Engineering services: Automation/controls, electrical/power, fire/life safety, HVAC/mechanical, lighting, and plumbing/piping
Project timeline: 4/9/2012 to 12/1/2014
MEP/FP budget: $40,000,000


Richmond Plaza is a residential housing complex located along the Harlem River in the Bronx. The complex consists of four 44-story high-rise buildings each with approximately 400 apartments, for a total of 1,600 apartments with over 5,000 residents. The complex, built in 1973, opened with modern MEP systems that complemented the futuristic architecture of the buildings. However, by 2010 the base building MEP infrastructure systems were dated, inefficient, and seriously in need of modernization and replacement. The primary challenge was how to modernize the MEP infrastructure while maintaining full occupancy of the buildings with minimal disruption to the occupants. Close cooperation was required between building owner Omni New York, developer Renewal Construction Services, Curtis & Ginsberg Architects LLP, Lizardos Engineering, and the construction contractors to plan a phased construction program to maintain tenants in their apartments as a major upgrade to the buildings and MEP infrastructure ensued.


The electrical upgrade provided unique challenges. Con Edison, the local utility providing power and natural gas to the complex, replaced the electric service to each building with dual feeders to dual step-down transformers. The electrical distribution system design provided for two switchboards in each building, allowing one board at a time to be replaced and energized while building service was maintained. The dual services and dual switchboards required only two, short building-wide shutdowns for final connection. New electrical risers were run in the existing conduits for each building paralleling the existing risers. The risers fed new distribution panels on each floor from which subfeeders fed new panels in the individual apartments. The new distribution system was fully installed before disconnecting the existing distribution system. Temporary cabling was provided to facilitate the swing-over. The new apartment panels required short shutdowns in the individual apartments, which was done as each apartment was being painted to minimize disruption to the tenants. The complex’s heating system was totally renovated. The original heating system used two roof-mounted heating plants with firetube hot water boilers that each provided heating hot water to two buildings. To maintain uninterrupted heating operation, a new single centralized boiler plant was constructed in a former day care center on grade. The new central boiler plant contains 11 gas-fired modular condensing boilers providing substantially improved fuel economy. New heating hot water distribution risers, new circulating pumps, and new perimeter radiation and cabinets were installed in all apartments and common areas. Summertime construction minimized the disruption to the tenants relying on the heating system. Similarly, domestic hot water was originally provided by gas-fired storage tanks located in the rooftop boiler rooms. As part of the new central boiler plant, modular gas-fired domestic water heaters were installed and connected to the domestic hot water system at the former rooftop connections. Only short shutdowns were required to make final connections.