Introduction: The new Physical Sciences Building (PSB) is part of a massive project here at the University of Massachusetts Amherst that is renovating and creating a couple buildings. The site for the PSB is referred to as The West Experiment Station (WES) site. This site was selected primarily for its location to the Chemistry and Physics departments in the neighboring buildings. The site occupies approximately 100,000 square feet with Lederle Graduate Research Center (LGRC) just North of it, to the West by Goessmann, to the East by North Pleasant Street. The WES currently sits at the center of the site. The PBS will be aiming to achieve Leader in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)Silver certification. The project will provide labs, lab support, and offices for 20 faculties and approximately 130 bench positions. The PSB is planned to be approximately 82,500 gsf of new construction on three levels. The building will have a basement, accommodating physics laboratories with high bay capacity sitting on foundations that will telegraph very low levels of vibration.
Architect: Wilson Architects
UMASS Project Manager: Joe Belzano
Start Date: Spring 2015
Projected Completion: Early 2018
Wilson Architects: Boston based architectural firm that collaborates with clients to strengthen connections between people and spaces. This large firm has a long history of success and many completed sites under their belt. They are famous for their sustainable commitment and known for their abundance of work on campuses around the country including; MIT, Florida State, UMASS Amherst, Vanderbilt and many more.
Whiting Turner: G.W.C. Whiting and LeBaron Turner founded The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company in 1909 on the belief that integrity, engineering talent, and a dedication to their customers would make them the very best in the construction industry. “For more than a century, our success and reputation in the marketplace have been testaments to their wisdom.” This company has an annual revenue of $5.7 billion and ranks #66 for largest private companies with around 2000 employees. Based in Baltimore, Maryland, Whiting-Turner Contracting has been in business since 1909. It is one of the nation's largest construction management and general contracting companies. The company’s first project was utility and road work at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. back in 1910 and they have been working nonstop ever since. This company’s work ranges from factories, war depots, schools, banks, hospitals, and so much more. They have created and are still creating many buildings here at Umass including, The Life Sciences Labs.
WEEK #3 SITE VISIT: (October 28nd 2016)
A lot of deliveries came in on this day including over 40 panes of glass windows that are too be installed on the Eastern façade to close off this side of the building. The windows are fixed windows meaning that they will be set in one place and be non-operational. This is very common when looking at larger commercial construction. The windows will be installed from the ground up and with a lift once the workers approach the higher floors. 20 pallets of brick were also delivered to the site to be installed on the North and East side of the building. Inside in the second were about 100 sheets of gypsum board that had also been delivered that day. From the second floor one can see the exterior of the West Experiment house which included the galvanized steel roof along with a couple chimneys that are actually just for show and will not be operational.
Here on the second floor we can see a poorly fireproofed steel beam. A worker on site said that the beam will be brushed over with another coat when the fire proofers return to the site and that it will most likely be down by hand because it is only minor patch work that needs to be done. The second floor is well underway with some light steel frame being set up to create some of the rooms that will be on this floor. Two major stairways are also under construction and once complete will make it a lot easier for the workers on site to go from floor to floor.
A mockup of a lab was created in order for the workers to see what is expected when they are to build the rest of the labs in over 30 more locations. A mock up is a full-scale model that is used as a way to teach and visibly show the construction workers how a certain room or structure is supposed to look and be constructed. Think of a white board in an office, people generate ideas of how certain things are to look or be presented and once their idea is generated they require feedback from other people. If they find the feedback to be negative or that some improvement can be made then the original idea can be erased or edited just like on a construction site where the mock up can be re-adjusted, updated, improved, or even demolished to start from scratch. The Physical Sciences Building is going to house many students whose education revolves around lab work. Each lab will be used for different activities so this phase of the construction process has proven to be very challenging. To get an idea of what will be going into the lab, a sloped ramp is going to be installed outside the PSB leading to a building dock that will be installed into a basement. This loading dock will be used for the building to receive large scale machinery to be put into these labs. The mock ups provide for a trial and error phase for designers. It allows for them to test ideas so that they can improve or reinvent the mock ups before it is too late. Imagine putting all this money, time, and effort into constructing 30 labs only to find out once the building is completed that the labs are not how they should be and fail the owner of the building. When it comes to construction a mock up can save a company a lot of time and money.
On the first and second floor HVAC and ductwork is being done through the building. At this moment, the systems are not operational but a PM said that they were hoping they could test them out within the next few weeks. The ducts are made from galvanized steel which is a common material for the large systems when looking at commercial construction.
We can see a large area of concrete slab, underneath that concrete is where the labs and the basement are located. Above the ground on the concrete there will be a vast amount of hand picked landscaping items from trees to bushes, to flowers and mini gardens. Landscaping falls towards the end of the construction process and all the items that are going to be placed in a certain area are often times already selected even before construction of the building begins. The design process brings all of the experts into one team consisting of a project manager, landscape architect, and installation crew. The team can then develop and collectively review the project during a sites stages, allowing for project challenges to be resolved before the project begins because everything from which materials best suit the landscape to how to install those materials will be taken into consideration. The landscaping phase can change constantly through a construction cycle. If the landscaping is planned at the early stages of construction there can be changes taken place to best suit the owner.
Week three research: HVAC and Ductwork
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, also known as (HVAC) is the technology that allows for indoor air comfort. The purpose of the system is to maintain acceptable temperatures and air quality within a building. HVAC systems are found in single family homes, apartments, hospitals, nursing homes, commercial buildings, and so on. Occupants rely on these systems to keep them cool when they are hot and warm when they are cold. HVAC systems are responsible for 49-62% of energy usage in a building. There are 4 factors that affect environmental comfort:
Air Temperature: The average human likes to keep the temperature of a room anywhere from 70 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit no matter what time of year.
Air Circulation: Humans find comfort in air moving around a room especially in the summer when they are hot and sweaty.
Relative Humidity: Not always thought about, this might be the most important factor when looking at environmental comfort. If the humidity in a room is too high or too low not only does one feel uncomfortable, but bacteria and mold can grow affecting air quality and a person’s respiratory system.
Cleanliness: How clean air definitely bothers one’s quality of living, if the air is too musky and dusty one can become irritated or even fall ill.
An HVAC system helps maintain all of the factors that contribute to the overall happiness for a human and their environmental comfort. The air is transported via ducts which are commonly made from some sort of sheet metal such as galvanized steel or aluminum. These ducts can either deliver or remove air depending on the preference of the occupant at the time. The PSB uses galvanized steel for its duct work and these large systems are a lot more complicated that an average residential homes HVAC system.
The most common HVAC system is a Central Forced Air-System and is favored because of its benefits:
- Cheap to install
- Quick and easy to install
- Durability and Versatility
- The rate in which it can provide heating/cooling
There are two phases to the HVAC process, Rough HVAC and Finish HVAC. To begin the framer and HVAC contractor create framing members for the air handling units and duct work while meeting specific codes that have to do with beams, studs, and sheathing and other structures. Next there is the dimensional lumber joists where no notches should be deeper than 1/6 the depth of the joist. After the joists comes the sheet metal ductwork installation. These should be installed clear of floor framing and other building materials that could vibrate. The reason for this is so that no noise will be generated while the system is up and running. To be up to code sheet metal ducts need to be strapped to the framing every 10 feet. The flexible ductwork installation must be supported every 4 feet to prevent dips that would lead to a restriction in air flow. All duct work must be sealed air tight to maintain air pressure and in some cases, should be insulated to prevent condensation from happening. Once all is done the next step is the finishing, some considerations are properly installing items such as a thermostat to provide the occupant with a comfortable indoor environment which they can control. Along the floor or usually on the up or lower corners of walls one can find the grilles where the controlled air comes out of to supply the room with preferable air. This is common in new homes that have Central Air, these grilles work directly with the HVAC system and allows for the home to not have to use window air conditioning units that can often times be an eye sore to the occupant.
The History of HVAC systems: The idea of a system that generates cold air when we are hot and hot air when we are cold has been around since ancient Rome and China where slaves would use hand held fans to cool off their masters.
- 1902: a man by the name of Willis Carrier invents a machine that blows air over coils to control room temperatures and humidity for a publishing company so that the paper inside the building would stop wrinkling and so that the ink would stop running, he later establishes the Carrier Air Conditioning Company of America.
- 1931: Two men H.H Schultz and J.Q. Sherman invent an air conditioner that can sit on a window ledge and cool an individual room, this design is still used today.
- 1942: The first power plant to handle the growing electrical load of AC units is created in the US.
- 1970: Central Air comes along but is mostly used for commercial and industrial sized buildings.
- Today: Central Air is common in individual housing and becoming more efficient every single year.
Commonly found outside homes with HVACs systems are condensers; a device used to condense a substance from gas to liquid by cooling it. Condensers are genuinely heat exchangers that come in all shapes and sizes and can be found inside many other home appliances such as a refrigerator. There are three condensers used in HVAC systems:
- Water-cooled: commonly used for swimming pools or city water flow
- Air-cooled: Most commonly used, are the condensers located outside of a structure, they eject heat to the outdoors.
- Evaporative: The least popular of the condensers, can be used inside or outside a unit and operate at a low condensing temperature.