Primera Engineers Ltd.: William Jones College Preparatory Academy

New construction at an educational facility.

By Primera Engineers Ltd. August 14, 2014

Engineering firm: Primera Engineers Ltd.
2014 MEP Giants rank: 94
Project: William Jones College Preparatory Academy
Address: Chicago, Ill., U.S.
Building type: Educational facility
Project type: New construction
Engineering services: Electrical/power, fire/life safety, HVAC/mechanical, energy/sustainability, and plumbing/piping
Project timeline: 4/1/2010 to 7/31/2013
MEP/FP budget: $25,000,000


With urban environments becoming more popular and competitive, we are seeing a trend toward higher-quality design, especially when it comes to educational facilities. The William Jones College Preparatory Academy project involved the design of a 280,000-sq-ft replacement school in downtown Chicago serving 1,200 students. The new school is unique in that it is a mid-rise, seven-story school building that combines many auxiliary spaces used for an array of activities. Together with the renovation of the existing school next door, the new building nearly doubled the capacity of this high-performing public school. A major challenge for this project was coordinating the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection, and electrical/information technology pathways with the structure and architectural features of the building. Since it was also set to achieve LEED Gold certification, the project needed to consider the necessary sustainable features as well.


To overcome the coordination effort needed for all services, construction documents were generated using BIM, which included all ductwork, piping, conduit, electrical pull boxes, light fixtures, panels, fan coils, and ceiling-mounted devices. Primera worked with the architect and specialty consultants—which included: swimming pool designers, kitchen designers, audio visual and acoustic designers, theatrical lighting designers, interior designers, and security designers—to ensure that everyone remained up-to-date on design decisions. The building models were traded among all of the specialty consultants on a weekly basis, and clash detection was performed periodically to address any conflicts. To address the requirements of LEED Gold certification, Primera used an energy-efficient HVAC system using a dedicated outside air distribution system. This system offered unique advantages over the traditional variable air volume (VAV) system, including: guaranteed ventilation air to meet air quality and building pressurization needs; significantly reduced duct sizes allowing for efficient floor-to-floor heights; superior humidity control; and energy recovery from building exhaust air. The electrical lighting design also used LED lamps, occupancy/vacancy sensors, and daylight harvesting controls. Finally, the heating hot water and domestic hot water systems used condensing boiler technology with projected boiler efficiencies exceeding 90%. The resulting energy usage as predicted by the energy model demonstrates that the building is 45% more efficient than that required by the ASHRAE energy baseline with a predicted site energy use index (EUI) of 70 kBtu/sq ft/year. The state-of-the-art school was designed to seamlessly integrate with its urban surroundings, and provides a better learning environment and improved education access for students from Chicago’s underserved multicultural neighborhoods.