Contemporary Comfort

Police in Columbus, Ohio, turn tough job over to mechanical firms. Police work, like military duty, is filled with uncertainty. Though they can take few things for granted, members of the police force and officers in training in Columbus, Ohio, can rely on comfort systems installed in one of the country's most contemporary training facilities for law enforcement personnel. It replaces a much smaller

Police in Columbus, Ohio, turn tough job over to mechanical firms.

Police work, like military duty, is filled with uncertainty. Though they can take few things for granted, members of the police force and officers in training in Columbus, Ohio, can rely on comfort systems installed in one of the country's most contemporary training facilities for law enforcement personnel. It replaces a much smaller facility, built in 1964 and considered inadequate a decade later.

The new $27 million, 166,000-sq.-ft. circular building opened in December 2004 to its first class of 67 recruits. It houses many specialized functions that officials say are needed to prepare officers for an increasingly complex job.

"There's not another like it," architect Patrick Allen says. "This building is truly an expression of what the Columbus Police Division needed, and what its training is all about."

From its gleaming forensics classroom, to the well-appointed weight training and aerobic-conditioning rooms, cadets and trainers now have at their disposal one of the best facilities of its kind. So unique is the building that it already has attracted police agencies from across the nation, Commander-Larry Rod says. This will generate revenues to help cover the costs of training the city's officers, he notes.

The building's most distinct architectural feature, found immediately within the large lobby, is a glassand-brick tower that permits natural light to stream down onto a Hall of Honor where officers killed in the line of duty are memorialized. The building's circular design has within its center a nearly 1-acre, open-air courtyard that can be used for class formations, receptions and graduation ceremonies. Other amenities include a gymnasium; an indoor pool for exercise, injury rehabilitation and dive team training; fully padded defensive tactics rooms; a 300-seat dining hall; a 300-seat auditorium; lecture hall; several classrooms; and a computer lab.

Heating system

Another key facet of the job, though less visible than its many architectural amenities, are the building's sophisticated mechanical systems. When the general contractor and planners for the building settled on the mechanical installations firms, they chose two Columbus-based firms.

Fox Mechanical was tapped to do the substantial heating job, and Aggressive Mechanical was chosen to handle the domestic water system. Both companies are union shops and specialize in commercial and industrial work.

Fox tapped Martina Metals, to handle the air-side work, and Stotts Insulation. Both are Columbus-based firms.

The contract for Fox, which encompasses the HVAC, system, controls and system insulation exceeded $2.5 million, putting its crew on the jobsite for 11 months. Aggressive stayed on the job a few more months to complete the DHW system for the new building.

"This was about an 18-month project overall," notes Michael Hann, project manager for Messer Construction Co., the general-contractor chosen by the city of Columbus to build the new facility. Messer Construction is a regional general contractor and commercial construction firm specializing in complex building construction projects throughout Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee.

"There definitely were some unique aspects to the mechanical systems at the police academy," Hann adds. "We chose Fox and Aggressive because of their experience with jobs on this scale, and because they were eager to take on the uniqueness of the project."

One of the more unusual aspects of the mechanical job was tied to the shape of the building. The geometry of the building created the need for a substantial amount of offset piping, Hann says.

"To complete the heating loop system, we'd make 5-degree angle welds in the black pipe to accommodate the curvature of the building," explains Andrew Fox, vice president of Fox Mechanical and jobsite supervisor for the project. "To say the least, this was very time consuming. We had three [ twoman] welding crews working non-stop on the primary loop for four months."

The primary loop's large-diameter piping network — in the 21/2 in. to 8 in. sizes — is black pipe. Anything 2 in. or smaller is copper.

"The building is heated hydronically, entirely by hydro-air," Fox notes. "We built the heating system around 11 primary water-to-air heat exchangers that range in capacity from 3,500 to 18,500 cfm per unit."

An additional 170 variable air volume boxes, one per zone, and 14 fancoil units serve some of the hallways and stairways where ducting of the hydro-air isn't feasible.

"All of these devices permit fine-tuning of zoned temperatures," Fox says. "Each of the remote units is separately piped with supply and return lines."

The mechanical room is spacious and intelligently designed, he says. At its center are four stacked, 2 million Btuh Pennant boilers by Laars Heating Systems — two sets, two high — that provide 16 stages of firing, all controlled by a sophisticated Honeywell BAS installed by Columbus-based Commercial Control Services.

Domestic water

Jim Buyko was the foreman on the job for Aggressive Mechanical. For a year, he led their installation efforts at the facility.

"While installing the domestic water-systems, we faced many of the same piping challenges that Fox Mechanical dealt with because of the unique shape of the building," Buyko says. "Our crews installed 41 self-contained shower units in one area, and tap fixtures throughout the facility. To heat and store the domestic water, we installed two stacked, 1 million Btuh Laars Pennant volume water heater systems, controlled in lead-lag fashion to feed hot water to two, 2,020-gal. Laars storage tanks.

"The storage tanks are the largest we've installed. It was a challenge getting tanks of that size in place, but they piped up very nicely and definitely add to the facility's energy efficiency."

Between the tanks and the many American Standard plumbing fixtures, Aggressive installers connected miles of 1/2-in. to 4-in. copper pipes.

"The domestic water system was engineered to go from 'zero to 60' on short notice," Buyko adds. "It was sized to meet the needs of the entire cadet force, hitting the facilities all at once after a rigorous workout."

Now, when winter winds lash at the academy's recruits, out for a run, they'll return to comfortable temperatures inside, and plentiful hot water for showers. Or a swim in the heated pool. Surely, their jobs will be tough enough, too soon.