Drexel University Chestnut Street Housing

New construction: Drexel University Chestnut Street Housing, Bala Consulting Engineers Inc.


A view of new student housing development is from Chestnut Street. Courtesy: Bala Consulting Engineers Inc. (Click to enlarge) Project name: Drexel University Chestnut Street Housing

Location: Philadelphia, Pa.

Firm name: Bala Consulting Engineers Inc.

Project type, building type: New construction, school (college, university)

Project duration: 2 years

Project completion date: Sept. 1, 2013

Project budget for mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection engineering only: $21 million

Engineering challenges

The three new residence halls will wrap two sides of a city block and are being constructed between the public sidewalks and existing university buildings. Prior to beginning construction of the new buildings, steam, electric, telephone, and cable utilities serving the existing buildings had to be relocated into corridors between the residence halls. Mechanical and electrical spaces within the existing buildings were no longer located in perimeter spaces, and new This is a view of Mandell courtyard on Chestnut Street. Courtesy: Bala Consulting Engineers Inc. (Click to enlarge)ventilation and cooling pathways were identified through both the existing and new buildings. Separate mechanical systems were required for the apartment tower and the townhome units. The stacking nature of the apartments was ideal for vertical stack water source heat pumps; one heat pump is provided in each apartment with limited ductwork in each living space. The townhomes alternate living rooms and bedrooms and interior walls do not align; Variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems with individual fan coils are utilized. In all cases, the ability to simultaneously heat and cool different living units or interior spaces is maintained.


All three buildings are served from the same central utilities. High-voltage electrical service, natural gas, domestic water, domestic hot water, and the circulating heat pump loop are all extended from building to building through common spaces and crossing below grade in the areas between buildings. Appropriate access to all utilities was maintained.

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