Walbridge served as construction manager on the 2011 renovation of Eastern Michigan University’s largest and most heavily-used academic building, Pray-Harrold Hall. Seven stories tall and 237,000 square feet, it serves 10,000 students and 350 faculty members each day. Walbridge carried out the extensive renovation in phases, as to not disrupt operations of faculty and students.
For the overhaul, Walbridge – with designers SHW Group and DiClemente Siegel Design – created new spaces for gathering, updated classrooms, modernized infrastructure and improved HVAC systems throughout the building. A crucial part of the renovation included renovating the university’s 10,000-square-foot data center, which is housed on the first floor of Pray-Harrold Hall.
For the data center, the project team installed primary and secondary electrical distribution systems, a new uninterruptible power source, generator, cooling systems, cabling and fire suppression systems. Keeping the data center cooled during the work required a great deal of attention. Designs required Walbridge to install a temporary chiller system, remove the old HVAC system, install the permanent new system and then remove the temporary chiller – all while keeping the cooling system constantly functioning. Crews were warned the Data Center would only last 60 minutes without proper cooling before equipment would shut down. Due to limited space in the data center, Walbridge was required to work over and around massive computers and, at some points, inside the racks that support the equipment. Spot-on design played a significant role in this part of the process. The team achieved uninterrupted operation during construction.
As construction manager of the $32 million renovation of Eastern Michigan University’s Pray-Harrold Hall, Walbridge implemented improvements on all seven floors of the building, including upgrades to technology infrastructure, HVAC and electrical systems, windows, handicap accessibility, classrooms and laboratories, common areas, faculty offices and administrative space.
The renovations also brought sustainability improvements to the 40-year-old facility, such as exterior green-mesh walls and new energy-efficient equipment.