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From Blueprint to Building: Insider Prefab Secrets of 100 Chestnut’s Cooling Tower and Boiler Installation

Published July 12, 2023

From Blueprint to Building: Insider Prefab Secrets of 100 Chestnut’s Cooling Tower and Boiler Installation

From Blueprint to Building: Insider Prefab Secrets of 100 Chestnut’s Cooling Tower and Boiler Installation

Most people never wonder what’s behind the walls of their offices or the buildings they visit everyday. And they shouldn’t have to. Because if you notice the piping, plumbing, or fire safety sprinkler system, somebody’s doing something wrong.

But at PSI, we’re aware of every prefabricated pipe, pump, and pressure gauge. Here’s the “money shot” of the crane lift to the 6th-floor penthouse engine room for our nearly finished project at 100 Chestnut. This new construction in Somerville, MA, came with typical pipefitter challenges: working in harsh winter weather, limited parking on narrow access roads, being mindful of early morning noise levels for local residents, and working in tight spaces alongside other contracting companies.

With a June 30 deadline, it felt good to hoist this up weeks ahead of schedule. This gave us plenty of time to balance all the pumps and systems and to label and tag everything well before the end of the month. Here’s a wrap-up of how PSI completed another successful project.

To The Drawing Board!

We first discussed this project in April 2022. Working hand in hand with Phoenix Mechanical, 3D drawings were completed and approved by the GC and other trades through multiple meetings. We knew immediately we’d need prefabrication, given the residential location, the tight deadline, and the fact that the building’s foundation hadn’t even been laid yet.

Prefab Time

Now that we knew exactly what to build it was time to get prefabricating in our 17,000 square-foot prefabrication shop. Most of this project was prefabbed, down to the lance connections and the exchanges which cuts back on work done on-site (minimizing disruptions), lowers the overall cost of materials, and eliminates delivery delays. Clients love that!

Job-Site Installation

We began working on-site at 100 Chestnut around late September 2022, starting first on the risers. We added steel supports in the open shafts, and got all of our mains installed up the shafts, into the penthouse, and down to the first-floor level. As we closed the shafts, we started 2-man teams in the lobby area and stairwells, gradually working our way up as tenants began to move in below.

The Obstacles

Looking back on the obstacles we faced, I couldn’t be happier with the way our crew handled themselves.

  • Very tight quarters – A big issue here was that we were surrounded by residential property. All materials for the penthouse and roof were hoisted by crane from the street. We couldn’t block anyone’s access, make big messes, or create a lot of noise at our typical 6:30am start time.
  • Parking – Always fun in Somerville! The job site officially opened at 7am, but the field crews had to arrive between 5:30am –  6:00am to get parking. Otherwise, they’d be walking miles to get to the site. But, as Dad used to say, “That’s life in the big city!” Our guys handled it with professionalism.
  • Winter – It’s New England, and even though we didn’t have a lot of snow this winter, it was a wet one. And as with any new construction, windows are one of the last things to go into walls. When you work in 15° weather, starting at 5:30 and then drive home in city traffic with numb fingers and pink earlobes, it’s a long workday. My guys are absolute champs for enduring these conditions while still producing high-quality work.
  • No Disruption – Our team had to share the job site with many other contractors, such as electricians, builders, glaziers, and other sub-contractors. Everyone’s on deadline; conditions are less than ideal, yet any conflicts we had were resolved amicably so no work was ever delayed.

The Results

Successful installation of multiple boilers, condenser water pumps, chill water pumps, and hot water pumps. We also have four big cooling towers on the roof of the building as well as an oil-fired Diesel engine. In the basement, we installed a large oil tank and fill box, with mains that run up the shafts in containment. All this piping was prefabricated 14 inch mains which was brought from our shop and rigged into place on top of the mez. So now it’s a sprint to the finish line. Stay tuned for the final reveal pics!

People walk into these buildings having no idea what’s behind the walls, what’s above the ceilings, all those things that make a building operational. Piping Systems Inc specializes in what’s behind the walls. We finish our work on-time and with great people who have an unmatched commitment to providing quality workmanship.