Whitehurst Hall was completed in 1982 and the facility has always served as a dormitory for student housing. In general, the building is made up of two six-floor dormitory towers and a first-floor dining hall. This project will replace the heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, replace the existing roof system, replace the dormitory tower windows, upgrade the existing fire alarm system, and extend the existing sprinkler system to serve the complete facility. The existing sprinkler system is currently limited to coverage of the dining area, kitchen, and mechanical rooms, and has standpipes in each stair tower serving floors two through six.
The renovation of Whitehurst Hall included upgrading the existing mechanical systems and fire suppression systems throughout the entire building. The building is comprised of dormitory spaces as well as multi-purpose areas for students on campus. The architectural scope of work included upgrading interior finishes within the public areas in the building and creating a creative way to house the new mechanical and fire suppression systems. The ceilings used an architectural panel system that would allow the decorative panels to be removed to access telecommunication lines as needed by the University. The elevator corridors have a colorful bulletin board that allows campus notices as well has fun signs to be displayed for all residents and visitors.
The existing HVAC system is a dual temperature fan coil unit system with a centrifugal chiller and heating hot water boilers located in penthouse mechanical rooms. Outdoor air is provided through louvered vents that are open to each fan coil unit’s return air plenum. Because of local humidity conditions, lack of control of outdoor air flow, inability to dehumidify, and unoccupied summer seasons, the facility has been suffering from mildew and other moisture issues throughout its history. The existing HVAC system requires annual remediation efforts to remove mildew before the start of each fall semester.
Previous A/E design studies and projects attempted to correct the moisture/humidity issues, but the designs failed to result in an on-budget construction contract award. The previous projects sought to convert the dual temperature system into a four-pipe system (simultaneous chilled water and heating hot water) and install new dedicated outdoor air systems. While a cost reduction attempt was made to retain the dual temperature system and only provide the dedicated outdoor air systems, the invasiveness of the duct installation to the existing structure combined with the schedule limitations of the campus housing caused those projects to be cancelled and the efforts lost.
This project’s HVAC design takes a different approach by converting the existing dual temperature system into a condenser water system, replace the fan coil units with water source heat pumps, and install a geothermal bore field. The new water source heat pumps will be installed on an elevated stand so stand-alone dehumidifiers can be installed beneath the water source heat pumps. Outdoor air will be ducted from the existing brick vents to the new water source heat pumps with balancing dampers and low leakage motorized dampers to regulate outdoor air flow and allow closure during unoccupied periods.
The moisture/humidity challenges within the subject project are attributed to three primary sources: (1) uncontrolled air infiltration through the brick vents, (2) air infiltration through and around the existing windows, and (3) moisture migration through the building envelope, including the existing roof and brick control joints. This project addresses all three moisture sources and provides a dehumidifier in each dorm suite with the new HVAC units.
Construction sequencing will be conducted in two phases through a total of four academic semesters (Summer 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, & Summer 2022). Construction is projected to begin at the start of the Summer 2021 Semester in early May and conclude at the end of the Summer 2022 Semester in late August. This project will renovate one tower at a time to allow the building to maintain approximately 50% occupancy through the Fall and Spring Semesters (2021/22).
During the summer semesters the building will be unoccupied. The first unoccupied summer will be utilized to prepare temporary separations and to complete construction processes in common areas. The second unoccupied summer will be utilized to complete all remaining first floor construction and close the project out.
To accommodate the 50% occupancy approach, the first tower’s renovation (Tower B) must be completed, punched out, and turned over before the end of Winter Break 2021 (December 31, 2021), such that when students return from the academic break, they are able to move from existing rooms in Tower A to renovated rooms in Tower B. Upon successful relocation of students and their possessions, renovations shall commence in Tower A.
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