When The Evergreen State College hired Stock & Associates and FSi to renovate the basement of its three-story Lab 1 Building, our original scope included upgrades to HVAC, controls, plumbing and piping, lab systems, and fire protection for all spaces in the basement. The college had upgraded one floor of the building at a time, phased over several years to meet capital budget limitations. Our team’s project was the final phase of the full building renovation.
During pre-design, we learned about a pressurization problem that negatively impacted nearly every area of the building. The problem had begun after the top floor of the building was renovated, and had gotten worse after the second renovation project. There was a strong wind in hallways that made some doors nearly impossible to open, while others refused to shut. The lab classrooms had the most serious problems, with fume hoods that were not functioning properly, keeping the system in constant alarm mode, a clear safety hazard. Although it was outside of our original project scope, we knew the building pressurization would have to change or none of the systems in our installation would work either.
With the blessing of the owner, we set to work to find the cause, and a solution, for the problems. We quickly discovered that each of the previous projects in the building had created a standalone air handling system to serve the floor being renovated, without taking into account that air moves between floors in the building. Looking at the building as a whole system, we developed an inexpensive solution to improve pressurization that was as simple as adding a few new fans and controls. Best of all, our solution added just 2% to the project construction cost.
Once the project was constructed, doors opened and closed normally. Lab classrooms were properly pressurized, fume hoods stopped alarming, ongoing maintenance costs were reduced, and the college was able to postpone additional renovations.
We’re proud to have a hand in designing the labs that train tomorrow’s professionals, including nurses!