Contractor juggles engineering concerns, integrates hvac systems
Coordinating the complete mechanical work that serves two new facilities being constructed at James Madison University (JMU) has been quite a challenge to Riddleberger Bros. Inc. project manager Chuck Cline. "Having to combine all the instructions and getting everything approved has been a little bit crazy," he said. "Our job was to assure that the mechanical systems in the interconnected buildings under construction operated seamlessly."
Riddleberger Bros. Inc. (RBI) is a 60-year-old full-service mechanical contracting firm located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley. The company has been closely associated with JMU for many years, most recently completing the mechanical work on the 280,000-sq.-ft. College of Integrated Science and Technology building on campus. Currently, Mt. Crawford, Va.-based RBI is putting the finishing touches on a new $3 million, nearly 19,000-sq.-ft. Leeolou Alumni Center, as well as a 61,000-sq.-ft. addition to the university's 46,000-sq.-ft. College Center.
Since each of the new projects is separately funded, two engineering firms were assigned to the tasks. The first phase of the College Center had been handled by Hankins and Anderson, Inc., Richmond, Va. So it was only natural that they would continue on as engineers for the Phase 2 addition. Decisionmakers for the Leeolou Alumni Center project, on the other hand, engaged the services of R.G. Vanderwell Engineers, Inc., Boston. "Both new buildings connect to either side of the existing College Center, each with its own engineer, requiring a great deal of coordination to integrate the different systems," Cline said. Quiet operation of the system was of paramount importance, according to one of the engineers who designed the system.
When it is fully completed, the two-story Leeolou Alumni Center will include a multi-purpose great room with a bluestone fireplace, display space for revolving exhibits of Madison memorabilia, and an adjoining terrace. Two of the great room's exterior walls and one of the interior walls will be made primarily of glass, giving visitors a spectacular view over the rolling hills and meadows surrounding the 15,000-student campus in Harrisonburg.
Putting it togetherThe expanded College Center gives plenty of additional room for the multi-purpose facility that provides dining, programmable spaces, and university information services. It also includes meeting spaces, an entertainment stage, and an outdoor amphitheater.
JMU decided to locate the Leeolou Alumni Center next to the College Center to encourage interaction among alumni and students. "Alumni are in a position to assist students with career mentoring and other programs. By the time our students graduate, they will feel welcome in the Leeolou Alumni Center," said Hugh Lantz, president of the JMU Alumni Association.
When RBI completes its work on the College Center and Leeolou Alumni Center, it will have devoted nearly two years to the projects, including the time spent on the Phase I of the College Center. Working with general contractor Nielsen Builders, Inc., Harrisonburg, and architect SmithGroup, Reston, VA, they handled all mechanical work, including plumbing and hvac. Overall management of the projects was the responsibility of Thor Sigfusson, project manger for the university.
With acoustics a major concern, designers chose CertainTeed ToughGard? Duct Liner with Enhanced Surface in 1-in. and 2-in. thicknesses for the hvac ductwork. The fiber glass insulation liner, produced with a unique surface coating with moisture-repellent properties, provides optimum acoustical performance. Its "breathable" coating preserves the sound-dampening performance of the duct liner by allowing sound waves to pass through the open-cell structure and into the sound-absorbing glass fiber mat.
Working in the 31,000-sq.-ft. RBI shop, fabricators applied more than 14,000 sq. ft. of the ToughGard liner to the ductwork. According to Charlie Kyger, general manager of RBI's sheet metal shop, from 10 to 15 people worked on the project on an almost daily basis. Liner was used on the rectangular duct, which averaged 48 in. by 30 in. in size. In some high-velocity, high-pressure portions of the College Center system, Hankins and Anderson consulting engineer Mike Mullins specified the addition of perforated metal liner for increased sound attenuation.
"We've used ToughGard for several years," said Kyger. "Our workers like using it since it cuts easily and produces less dust during the fabrication process."
Moving the airThe mechanical room of the Leeolou Alumni Center has one 37,500-cfm air handler, with air distributed through VAV boxes. The College Center's lower level mechanical has three air handlers, operating at 22,500 cfm, 26,200 cfm, and 8,200 cfm. Steam for heat is converted to hot water from the university's central plant. Chilled water used in air conditioning also comes from the central plant. An interesting sidebar is the fact that the city of Harrisonburg owns JMU's central steam plant, which is a trash-burning facility.
Jim Young, RBI's president, noted that RBI's association with JMU goes back a long way, most recently with the completion of the College of Integrated Science and Technology's plumbing, hvac, and lab ventilation systems. With more than 300 employees serving Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland, RBI has had many high-profile clients, including Bank of America, Virginia Power, and Rockingham Memorial Hospital. Its educational clients have included Washington & Lee University, Virginia Military Institute, the University of Virginia, Bridgewater College, and Virginia Polytechnical Institute. Its web site is www.rbiva.com. RBI's supplier on the JMU jobs was East Coast Metal Distributors, Roanoke, Va.
"We enjoyed the challenge that these interconnecting projects presented us," Young said. "When everything is completed, James Madison University's students and alumni will be comfortable in their new buildings, no matter what the weather."
RBI is one of the largest mechanical contractors in Virginia, with more than 300 employees and an Engineered Services Group to offer clients the design-build option. RBI has been providing services to James Madison University for many years.