The new Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. is home to the Minnesota Wild NHL hocky team.

The $130 million, 18.600-seat Xcel Energy Center.


ST. PAUL, Minn. - Look around the Minneapolis-St. Paul skyline and you will see abundant examples of Metropolitan Mechanical Inc.'s finest work.

As an encore, the company this month will watch with interest as the puck drops in a brand new ice arena, the Xcel Energy Center, for the National Hockey League's newest expansion team, the Minnesota Wild. Hockey returns to "the land of 10,000 lakes" for the first time since 1991, when the Minnesota North Stars moved to Dallas. Xcel is a newly formed utility company.

Target Center, home of the NBA Timberwolves, was also a Metro Mechanical showcase project, along with Minneapolis' Mall of America.

General contractor and construction manager Mortenson/Thor selected Metro Mechanical for all Arena mechanical work, including hvac, plumbing, building automation and fire management. Construction began early last year. According to Metro project manager Gene Couser, "We were required to step up the construction period by at least six to nine months in order to have the Arena ready for the start of the NHL season. We responded with on-site supervision and CAD coordination and a six-day, 58-hour-a-week work schedule for our crew."

The building will maintain a 378F chilled water requirement. In preparation for a hockey game, the air temperature will be lowered to remove moisture and to prevent fog or haze over the ice. Once this cycle is completed, Xcel's temperature will be raised to approximately 608 during the game.

Metro teamed up with Sheet Metal Connectors Inc., Minneapolis, for design and fabrication of more than 16,250 feet of galvanized round spiral duct used throughout the facility. "Sheet Metal Connectors did an outstanding job for us, from responding to the CAD drawings to meeting the daily delivery needs on-site," said Couser.

The massive, hurry-up project couldn't have proceeded as smoothly as it did without careful coordination of all mechanical drawings. The drawing can solve many complex problems that may show up in too late without a drawing. Coordination plays a key role when installing mechanical systems.

To that end, Metro Mechanical developed a three dimensional mechanical CAD program using AutoCAD as a base. "Our 3-D program was developed with a 'real world' need in mind. Most commercially available programs are developed and written by people who have never had actual 'hands on' field experience in installation and coordinating mechanical systems. MMC takes the approach that our people have the years of experience in installation mechanical coordination and should have a hand in developing a program that will take into account all facets of mechanical coordination drawings," Couser said.

MMC's CAD program is described as a "smart" drawing, containing information on all materials and equipment contained in the drawing. This information can be accessed at any time to help in all inquiries about the mechanical system.

The 3-dimensional aspect is useful in many ways, coordinating with other mechanical systems and/or the building structure. 3-D drawings are very useful in the field, everyone can immediately grasp what is going on in that area.

For example, 3-D drawings were sent to Ichnya, Ukraine, one of MMC's international jobs, to visually give the Ukrainians an idea of what they would be installing, since they have never seen "ductwork" before. 3-D drawings were a bridge to the communication-translation gap.