Thursday, August 6, 2009

The agony of renovations (or, one of the reasons for this blog's name) part 2

So it gets better--this week I went with Bosley to an FCH meeting with the engineers and the architect of record for FCH. I may have explained this before, but here it is again: sometimes, two architects will join together as a joint venture or one will hire the other to work on a project. One firm will do the initial design, and the other one will take the design over and finish the construction documents and oversee construction. The first architect is the design architect, and the second is the architect of record. On FCH, we're working with Contigo Architects, whose office is only 45 minutes from FCH (while ours is about 4 hours away), and we have more experience in laying out hospitals than Contigo does. Hence, our roles are what they are.

I finally get to meet the architects I've only known as voices over the phone for four months, and we sit down to bidnazz. Part of the reason that we're meeting is to figure out how to get air into the newly-renovated surgery suite. We thought we could run some new ducts from a new small roof top unit (RTU), but the space between the underside of the structure and the top of the ceiling is too tight. From the floor of the building to the top of the roof deck is about 12 feet, and the structure is a 2.5" deep roof slab on 14" deep structure (cast in place concrete joists 24" o.c., for those of you keeping score at home). Plus, the roof structure is at different heights all over the roof, which is how they used to get a "flat" roof to slope so that you could shed water off of it to roof drains. Meanwhile, the ceiling in an operating room is ideally 10' high, but in order to get lights plus ducts in the ceiling space, we had to lower the OR ceilings to 9'-6". Furthermore, the structural engineer, who was present at the meeting helps us understand that at the lowest points in the roof structure, we would only have 6" between the ceiling and the bottom of structure, even with a 9'-6" ceiling. Really? Let's just send gnomes with fans up there to keep the place cool. Magic fairy dust will give us 25 air changes per hour! Ooh! And unicorns will keep the humidity between 40% and 60%--perfect conditions for doing a total hip replacement!

But that's not even the drinking-bingeworthy news. We had all decided earlier that we needed to create a mechanical penthouse thingy on the roof--this would hide and protect the ducts coming right out of the new mechanical unit, and they would go straight through the roof and into the ORs, no running long expanses of ducts underneath the supersnug structure. So we're all sitting around and working out how to do what and how to make it work and does this enclosure-thingy need to be rated or just insulated and if it's an attic then the IECC says it needs to be insulated to R-30 but ASHRAE says it needs to be R-38 (typical houses are about R-7 to R-13 in most places in the lower 48 states) when suddenly one of the engineers looks at a schematic plan Intern Kimmy and I drew of there the new RTU was going to go and said--

"Um, did you know there's already an RTU there?"

No. No, we did not know that. Do you have drawings that we don't have?

Oh. You do. You have drawings we don't have. Why is that? How come you have an entire set of drawings of a remodel that took place three years ago and we don't? Are we not cool enough to have a copy of said drawings? The most recent drawings we have of this building involve a remodel from 1999. And we have some crappy-ass CAD plans from Alphabet Design, who did that remodeling job in 1999 and who also evidently did the remodeling job from three years ago. And you have those drawings. And we don't. In ther words of Dr. Evil, throw us a frickin' bone here.

As we all look at the drawings showing the existing RTU, it turns out that this unit was installed about a year ago, and it was undersized from the day it went in. Thing is, Alphabet Design's in-house engineers supposedly sized the unit to provide air for two of the three floors of FCH, including the surgery suite, whenever they were going to remodel it. Which is weird, because if you ran the calculations even back then, even Ronnie Milsap could have seen that the unit was going to be too small to provide air for half the hospital, part of which included two 600-square-foot operating rooms that require megahuge amounts of fresh, HEPA-filtered air. So now, we have to figure out if we should try to fit two small units on this already-crowded roof, or if we should remove the pretty-much-new RTU, sell it on Mechanical Subcontractor eBay, and buy a new unit that is truly sized correctly to provide air to the half of the hospital that it's supposed to serve.

Either way, we're fixing a mistake we inherited, which as I understand it has pretty much been our experience with Alphabet Design. They produce crappy CAD drawings that aren't even remotely accurate (both on TCMC and FCH), they didn't even read ADAAG correctly and gave us crappy plans when we were their architect of record on another hospital (with Avanta, no less), and now they've undersized this RTU for this poor li'l hospital out in the boonies. Really, Alphabet Design? Really?

Forget the wine glass; just leave the bottle.


BaxtersMum said...

tell me that they are seeing pink slips at Alphabet too.

faded said...

All of the stuff I worked on was new work, but there were some interesting coordination issues when the electrical engineer was using a different drawing rev than the HVAC engineer and structural guy. Then all three engineers were a rev or two down from the architect.

We would see things like the HVAC guy who would route a supply duct thru a convenient roof opening that was labeled atrium sky light.

And now for something completely different. I went on vacation last week and wound up taking the Architectural River Tour in Chicago. You are in to buildings, you need to do this. You cruise down both branches of the Chicago river and the guides identify and describe all the major buildings. The river front is a who's who of great architecture.

The buildings are easy to see from the rivber because you are fairly far away from them.

The guides are quite knowledgable and have some distinct opinions.

You will see work by Mies van der Rohe, Skidmore-Owings and Merril, Kohn-Pederson and Fox, John Burgee, Phillip Johnson, Howells and Wood, Grahm-Anderson-Probst and White, Holbird and Root, Richard Bofill, Frank Abbot and a huge line up others. The building run in age from 1880 to 2009.

The guides call S.O.M. the three blind mies because some of their work is SO BLAND.

People in Chicago are crazy about it's buildings. They love their architects. You and guy need to go and stay down town at the Palmer House Hilton.

My daughter, the stone mason and I stood in bow of the ship and observed that state of repair of many of the buildings. Some were in good shape others posed a real danger to the pedestrians below.

Here is the link for the tour.

Totalrenovering said...

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