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Howard University Residence Halls

Washington, D.C.

General Contractor:  Clark Construction Group, LLC
Architect:  McKissack & McKissack
Engineer:  Greenman-Pederson, Inc.
Contract Amount:  $9,106,922
Start Date:  September, 2013
Completion Date:  July 31, 2014 (Substantial completion)


Challenge

College Hall North and College Hall South are Howard University’s two newest student residence halls. Howard University is the owner and the developer is Campus Apartments LLC.

College Hall North, a seven-story building with basement has 231,750 square feet of space. College Hall South, with six stories plus a terrace level in 138,477 square feet of space. In addition to student dorm rooms, each building has public space areas including recreation room, mail room and laundry room. Together the new buildings will house over 1300 students and staff in 700 units.

The ground floor in each residence hall is a partial public space area with two classrooms plus several dorm rooms. From the second floor up, the configuration is dorm rooms with study lounges and a central social lounge on each floor. Both facilities are designed to provide additional dorm room space in the future, as needed.

Shapiro & Duncan’s scope of work, which was focused on HVAC design and construction, proved to be particularly challenging on several levels. Our most daunting challenge at both buildings was logistical, due to the amount of equipment that needed to be delivered and installed.

Each of the 700 dorm rooms in the two buildings is outfitted with a vertical stack water source heat pump that receives hydronic supply and return from a central plant. Logistically, on a busy college campus, it was a huge challenge to receive, unload, stage, store and distribute to each floor that amount of equipment.

From a mechanical design and construction standpoint, the biggest challenge at College Hall North was adapting the heat pump configuration to the high-pressure steam supply provided by the University’s central plant. Any time one of our project teams is dealing with steam, it’s a big safety challenge. At College Hall South, boiler and water heater flue routing was a major coordination issue which was resolved digitally by our planning department.

Solution

Our logistics team succeeded in deploying smoothly more than 30 tractor trailer loads of equipment while school was in session and heavy student foot traffic as well as daily on-campus automobile traffic were constant obstacles.

To solve the steam supply challenge in College Hall North, we had to construct a tie-in (in an underground vault beneath College Street) to the main line coming from the Central Plant. This required a partial street closure, excavation of the road and coordination with existing utility lines and other systems running under the street.

Our team was also able to develop flue routing that achieved code compliance. Shapiro & Duncan’s advanced building information modeling (BIM) process, which provides clash detection in our 3D CAD drawings, confirmed that the new routing would work.

Result

The first batch of students started moving in on August 1, 2014, and move-in dates for the remaining students was staggered through mid-August in preparation for classes starting on August 25th.

Both buildings are on track to receive LEED Silver certifications. Shapiro & Duncan’s advanced technology played a pivotal role in production of the commissioning documentation for each heat pump unit. Commissioning is essentially a pre-operational check of each unit to ensure that it complies with LEED standards. By providing each of our HVAC techs with a pre-loaded with the commissioning form on their tablet – a form that used to be filled out by hand in a three-ring binder – we were able to expedite and streamline this part of the LEED certification process.

The new Howard University residence halls turned out to be a great project for Shapiro & Duncan. Our team stayed ahead of schedule and remained within budget. Clark Construction Group is happy to have had us as part of their team. Moreover, the developer, Campus Apartments, has reached out to our Service Department to provide ongoing service and maintenance on the newly installed HVAC systems.