Bank on it

Like a strong vault, Pittsburgh's Mellon Client Service Center features M/E sytems that offer the highest level of redundancy and reliability


Global banker Mellon Financial Corporation is no stranger to the shores of the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela rivers. In fact, its primary operations were housed for years in a cluster of facilities in downtown Pittsburgh, the heart of this 'Golden Triangle.' The separate high-rise structures, however, did not mesh well with a key functional requirement of Mellon's modern banking operations: data and transaction processing, especially for a growing global cash-management business.

'We were just too vertical in a small floor plate,' says Thomas Nichols, the Mellon first vice president charged with the management of corporate properties. 'Too much paper going up and down the floors.'

In 1998, the bank's officials decided to build an addition to their corporate campus: an operations building dubbed the Client Service Center. The purpose of this new structure was not only to provide better efficiencies for their processing functions, but also to provide a reliable backup facility for their entire corporate headquarters and the flexibility to change functions within the facility in the future.

'Mellon needed no inefficiencies in their configuration,' asserts Michael Culbert of Gilbane Properties, Providence, R.I., the developer and construction manager on the project. 'The bank's operations are fluid and continually change, and they needed to have a building that met those needs.'

The new facility, which rests atop a pre-existing subway station, is a shining example of what can be accomplished when stringent operational requirements are combined with a willing and knowledgeable client. This 14-story, 754,442-sq.-ft. facility demonstrates unique, reliable design in all of its mechanical and electrical systems, and like the three rivers, are tied together to offer the client a flexible and functional home for its operations. For its design of these systems, H.F. Lenz of Johnstown, Pa., has garnered itself CSE's 2001 Integrator Award in the Commercial design category. M/E leads the way

To deliver this building integration was required on a number of levels, be it coordination with the contractors, architect Burt Hill Kosar Rittelmann Associates of Pittsburgh and Mellon, to the interweaving of disparate mechanical, electrical and communications systems, all serving the client's goal of flexibility and redundancy.

From the beginning, Mellon's team knew that the new facility would rely heavily on engineering, so H.F. Lenz was relied on from the beginning. In fact, according to James Geiger, a senior vice president at Mellon, and one of the core members of their real estate management team, the engineering firm was one of the first groups contacted during the conceptual stages of this project.

'This really was an E/A job rather than a traditional A/E project,' he explains. 'We knew that the engineers had to come in and decide what the requirements were going to be.'

Richard Madzar, P.E., H.F. Lenz' principal in charge on the project agrees, pointing to the rare opportunity they had to lead design.

'Many times we must fit the mechanical design to the architecture of a building, and often the architects will simply want the mechanical systems buried somewhere,' he states. 'For this building, these systems were not an afterthought.'

The building's architectural features certainly attest to this committment. Each floor has larger-than-normal ceiling-to-floor heights to accommodate the raised and cellular floor system, under which lies electrical and communications wiring. The space plan as a whole is open, with few private offices, allowing a good deal of daylighting to intrude. The three large data operations floors, roughly 82,000 sq. ft. apiece, allow the financial institution to house similar functions together in a horizontal workflow vs. the vertical nature of the company's other high-rise facilities.

Another rarity of the engineering-led design was the decision to locate the central M/E systems on the 14thfloor. This arrangement not only centralizes maintenance and provides extra security, it also enables noise and heat to be expelled into the atmosphere without impacting building occupants, neighboring properties or pedestrians.

Maintenance and replacement strategies were also factored in when considering the building's rooftop equipment. Roof hatches allow for future removal of large equipment, and space was even allotted outside of the building for a crane to be parked. Additionally, multiple freight elevators reach the equipment floor. Integration essential

A fast-track schedule further boosted the need for true building-team integration. Completing this rigorous project required a great deal of coordination between H.F. Lenz and the architect, owner and developer.

According to Culbert of Gilbane Properties, the project took less than 30 months from conception to completion. Once Mellon decided on the downtown location, they basically turned the project over to Gilbane, who hired the architecture and engineering services and owned the building during course of the project, essentially handing over a turn-key facility.

Madzar estimates that a four-year project was basically squeezed into this time frame, meaning out-of-the-box solutions were required.

'This entailed a lot of staging of the engineering packages as opposed to a single, complete set of designs,' says Madzar. In fact, much of the building was still being designed as other portions were being constructed, he adds.

This process worked, in part, due to strong communication between H.F. Lenz and Mellon. The engineering firm worked with Mellon on numerous projects and because of this, the client had an innate ability to work with the engineers, defining and demonstrating their needs.

'They are very involved in daily operations, so their facility staff is very experienced,' Madzar notes.

This same type of communication was key with other members of the building team as well. During construction, for example, getting the right equipment in place at the right juncture of the project timeline required extensive coordination with component vendors.

According to Madzar, H.F. Lenz engineers made numerous factory visits to the manufacturers of the building's central fan stations, UPS, switchgear and generator sets to make sure the products were on time and functioning as needed. These large, heavy building components then had to be lifted to the top of the building: a feat that required on-time delivery and would hopefully be a one-time task. All things mechanical

Before any systems could be installed, the dual goals of flexibility and reliability had to be built into the design. The HVAC scheme certainly meets these requirements, providing a working environment that satisfies both kinds of inhabitant: the employees and the sensitive data-processing equipment.

Although this is a 24/7 operation, the load is not comparable to the peak load. As a result, life-cycle cost analysis was an important part of nearly all building systems, but especially the mechanical design. Engineers used an extensive computer modeling program that simulated energy use. Annual energy use estimates were also incorporated into an in-house economic analysis program, considering utility rates and contract terms, first costs, energy usage and operating/maintenance costs. All equipment options were also evaluated against the available space and desired level of system reliability.

The mechanical systems must be incrementally configured to produce varying levels of service, and the analysis helped to properly size all the incremental levels, maximizing the economy of energy savings. According to H.F. Lenz engineers, the HVAC system can scale up and down according to the needs of the facility operations.

To further bolster reliability and backup operations, an industrial-grade control system was installed for the HVAC system. This system provides many of the same bells and whistles as any commercial system, but the difference, according to Madzar, is that the industrial control systems offer much greater redundancy, primarily at the sensor level, with the sensors themselves being much more rugged and reliable.

This system also helps keep a greater level of energy efficiency, as the sensors only allow small drifts in temperature.

The control interface system used was OPC, a Microsoft-based system used mostly in industrial automation. Because the operating system is not proprietary, it is open to the market and versatile for future operations.

Over the next few years, Mellon plans to incorporate all of their downtown Pittsburgh facilities into this control scheme. According to Mellon's facility management team, this will allow them to increase efficiency by centralizing their facility monitoring and control functions. Electrical design

Reliability, of course, means a robust electrical design. The building's electrical service draws from all six of the available Duquesne Light network feeders in Pittsburgh's central business district. In the remote possibility of a total power outage, the entire facility can be operated with 6 Mw of on-site diesel generation, which is located alongside the mechanical equipment on the 14th floor. In addition, a 2,250-kVa central uninterruptible power supply ensures clean, reliable power to all the computer loads in the building, and an emergency water-storage system can provide backup evaporative cooling for the equipment.

Furthermore, electrical redundancy is extensive. According to H.F. Lenz engineer David Schmidt, P.E., the copper busing alone in the network switchboard weighs nearly 12,000 pounds.

Not only does the facility offer multiple electrical backups for its own processes, with its direct operational connections to other Mellon facilities in Pittsburgh, it also serves as a backup processing facility for functions at the other three downtown facilities.

The backbone of this operation is a massive communications infrastructure that Schmidt claims is one of the largest, if not the largest, ever implemented.

'Manufacturers have told me that this is the largest single installation of multimode fiber they have ever seen,' he says, explaining how it was necessary for Mellon to have simultaneous communications between its downtown facilities, while still ensuring a capacity for future growth (See 'Gone Underground' on page 34).

Inside the facility, all administrative and operations floors have a cellular floor system for power and communications, with the operations floors designed to permit future installation of an 18-in. raised floor, should it be needed. The data centers have 3-ft. raised floor.

Accommodating this cellular system and Mellon's desire for flexibility was the use of 'zone distribution' for the electrical and communications wiring. In other words, cabling runs to certain points on each floor and then to the individual components from there. This allows the bank to change configurations without a lot of new cable or business disruptions.

Reliable, flexible, safe

The engineers of H.F. Lenz were given the opportunity to contribute to a design that shows what can be done when all systems in a building combine to help define the purpose of the facility. Their final product is an ultra-reliable structure ideally suited to its purpose that allows the client the flexibility to change in the future.

'Because of its redundancy,' says Mellon's Nichols, 'I think it is one of the best facilities I have ever seen.'

Mellon is so pleased, in fact, that they have given tours of the new facility to its current and potential clients. According to Ronald Sommer, media relations specialist for Mellon, the building is a good physical representation of their commitment to reliability and security.

'Of Mellon's four buildings in Pittsburgh, this facility is the equivalent of our safe-deposit box.'

Tale of the Tape

Owner: Mellon Financial Corporation

Project: Client Service Center

Location: Pittsburgh

Program: Banking operational facility handling data processing, check transactions and global cash management

Size: 14 stories, 754,442 sq. ft.

Project cost: $150 million

M/E design cost: $50 million

M/E Engineer: H.F. Lenz, Johnstown, Pa.

Architect: Burt Hill Kosar Rittelmann Associates, Pittsburgh

Developer/Construction Manager: Gilbane Properties, Inc., Providence, R.I.

Protecting from Threats

Mellon Financial Corporation handles transactions and accounts for individuals, companies and governments all over the world. While all of their facilities must be safe and secure, the new Client Service Center-the bank's 'safe-deposit box'-takes this mission to a higher level.

As a result, the creation of this new facility included a significant investment in life safety and security systems.

A multiplexed fire-detection and alarm system not only alerts building occupants, but also reports the exact device that triggered the alarm. The building is fully sprinklered, including the electronic data processing areas, which are equipped with pre-action systems to prevent or minimize water damage to the equipment.

The facility's security mission was to create a secure, yet accessible building through the extensive use of electronic components. The system's primary feature is more than 200 digital video cameras connected to a fiber communications backbone for fast and secure transmission of high-resolution images. Other security features include redundant power supplies, security patrols and a card-access system.

Finally, the security system functions in tandem with the digital security system throughout the company's corporate complex, helping centralize security functions for all buildings.

Going underground

The client service center has a direct optical-fiber connection to Three Mellon Bank Center, three blocks away, that allows data processing functions to be recorded in real-time, or simultaneously, between the facilities. For this, a 2-ft.-diameter tunnel was bored through the bedrock 55 ft. below the city using a remote-controlled boring device. For the sake of redundancy, a second tunnel was also created, containing the same type of fiber-optic connection.

The creation of the tunnels alone required a considerable amount of planning and coordination. This was an unprecedented operation in a dense urban environment, and according to Richard Madzar, P.E., of H.F. Lenz, the engineers needed to study the geography below the building and come up with a contingency plan that proved to local authorities that no damage would be done to the downtown area.

These connections are under Mellon's control, and according to H.F. Lenz engineers, will provide lower annual operating costs as well as the backup operations facility that can undertake the banking functions of the other downtown facilities if necessary.

3D Eases the Process

One tool that helped the designers communicate with various team members was the use of three-dimensional modeling and wireframe graphics . Rather than standard, two-dimensional documentation and visualization tools, these models allow a full-detail rendering of component locations and, because the objects are actually embedded into the graphical file, offer infinite viewing angles.

According to the engineers at H.F. Lenz, the 3D models were provided to the owner and developer during the design stages to help illustrate design intent, and the wireframe documents-3D models that are easy to create and manipulate-were included in the construction documents to illustrate exactly how installation was to occur.

On a project with a compressed timeline, Michael Culbert, of construction manager and primary contractor Gilbane Properties, Providence, R.I., explains that having these accurate models helped the project along significantly.

'We have seen these types of three-dimensional documents in past projects,' he states. 'And for a project of this scope, they work very well.'

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