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SmithGroup project profile: Wayne State University, Mike Ilitch School of Business

Wayne State University, Mike Ilitch School of Business, Detroit, MI

By SmithGroup August 13, 2019
WSU School of Business 01 — The main facade along Woodward Avenue is an elegant glass curtain wall punctuated with two balconies over the entrance.

Engineering firm: SmithGroup

2019 MEP Giants rank: 30

Project: Wayne State University, Mike Ilitch School of Business

Location: Detroit, MI, U.S.

Building type: Educational facility

Project type: New construction

Engineering services: Automation, controls; electrical, power; energy, sustainability; fire, life safety; HVAC, mechanical; lighting; plumbing, piping

Project timeline: September 2015 to April 2018

MEP/FP budget: $770,000


When designing the facility, several challenges were considered:

1. Key objectives for the electrical power design include robust power distribution for high reliability, efficiency and future growth.

2. Set in a dense urban area, the team wanted to maximize visibility by way of lighting design

3. It needed to be a technology-rich learning environment, while keeping occupants and expensive equipment safe in its urban setting


Mechanical Systems

After numerous system considerations, a water source heat pump system was designed to condition the building. The system consists of boilers, evaporative cooler, dedicated outside air units and numerous water source heat pump units strategically placed for efficient zoning. Each Heat pump unit is furnished with ECM fans, integrated controls and insulated enclosures.

A mechanical penthouse was designed to give the appearance as a continuation of the fourth floor offices from the exterior. The penthouse contains two Dedicated Outside Air Systems (DOAS) to provide the necessary ventilation to each room. The DOAS conditions the outside air before delivering to each space. All ventilation air passes through an energy recovery wheel located in the DOAS. All exhausted air from the building also goes through the energy recovery wheel and is used to precondition the incoming ventilation air, therefore reducing the load on the unit.

WSU School of Business – The building uses glass and crisp forms to express modern ideals while expressing the stately and distinguished tradition of business education with the use of limestone and formal entries.

Electrical Systems Design

Lighting and controls focus on maximizing natural daylight, ease of use and nighttime aesthetics. Low voltage systems design provides a technology-rich environment for flexibility, safety and security. These core electrical design principles help to create a unique business school technology-rich learning environment and student connection to the downtown district.

Reliable and Efficient Power

Primary service originates at a brand-new utility substation located nearby the WSU MISB. The service is underground with multiple circuits for high reliability and redundancy. The building service equipment consists of a single-ended substation with a 208 volt (V) secondary voltage. The 208 building voltage was chosen due to the fact mechanical loads were mostly 208 or 120 V and LED lighting was used. Therefore, 277/480 V was not necessary and the building is much more efficient by foregoing the traditional step down distribution transformers. An emergency/standby natural gas generator provides reliable backup power during utility outages.

WSU School of Business — Telecommunications racks

Broadcasting Development

Located near downtown Detroit, the lighting concept “broadcast development” seeks to highlight nighttime activity in the classrooms while symbolically expressing the expansion of knowledge and services within the urban context.

This concept is exemplified by the building’s most prominent feature, a glowing classroom block, which functions as a beacon announcing the downtown entertainment district’s revitalization. This feature prominently displays the active and

WSU School of Business— Metal-enclosed single-ended unit substation

growing student population and establishes a new university identity. A surrounding limestone canopy is softly illuminated as if emanating from the classroom block, signifying the university’s impact and long-term investment in the community.

Technology and Safety in an Urban Environment

Telecommunications systems include redundant outside plant optical fiber cabling pathways, interior high-performance category 6e structured cabling and state-of-the art networking equipment. Voice over Internet Protocol phones, high density wireless access and cable television are provided throughout the facility. Plant cabling connects the facility to the main campus nearly 2 miles north.

Robust security systems are provided and monitored by Wayne State Police for protection of people and property. Access control, door monitoring, video surveillance and intrusion detection are provided. Glass-break detectors on exterior door and windows and equipment monitoring devices for AV components and equipment mitigate theft.

WSU School of Business — Metal-enclosed single-ended unit substation and fire pump disconnect switch