BJC Institute of Health

New construction: BJC Institute of Health; McClure Engineering


Rendering of the BJC Institute of Health at Washington University School of Medicine in St. LouisProject name: BJC Institute of Health

Location: St. Louis, Mo.

Firm name: McClure Engineering

Project type, building type: New construction, research/lab/high-tech

Project duration: 3 years

Project completion date: April 29, 2007

Project budget for mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection engineering only: $75 million

Engineering challenges

McClure Engineering provided third-party commissioning services for the BJC Institute of Health at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The 660,000-sq-ft shell and core project, which is a LEED Gold certified research laboratory, included all building major utilities and equipment to support the initial tenant finish package. Installed systems included campus steam connection, a new chilled water plant that was integrated to the campus chilled water distribution system, makeup air handling units, space conditioning air handling units, and laboratory exhaust systems. A 163,000-sq-ft tenant finish package consisted of wet labs, a biosafety Level 3 research facility, and supporting office areas. Installed systems consisted of conventional VAV terminal units, laboratory tracking pair terminal units, fume hoods, daylighting controls, and lighting/HVAC integrated zone occupancy controls. In addition to tight time constraints on construction as well as the coordination of efforts of multiple phases of shell and core development, some of the unique challenges the commissioning team encountered were:

  • Coordination and timing of efforts were complicated since MEP subcontractors selected for the shell and core bid package were different than those for the tenant finish packages.
  • An unusual, open central stair design made execution and verification of the stairwell pressurization system difficult. 
  • Operational issues were discovered such as excessive vibration remote from equipment, a deficient condenser water pump, and performance of the building envelope.


Exterior shot of the BJC Institute of Health at Washington University School of Medicine in St. LouisBelow are a few of the ways in which McClure Engineering was able to offer solutions to the challenges the team faced on this project. 

  • An unusual, open central stair design made execution and verification of the stairwell pressurization system difficult. Field measurements and observations by McClure ultimately contributed to resolution of all performance issues and reliable operation of the system. 
  • Excessive vibration observed on the 10th floor of the facility was found to originate from the 6th floor mechanical air handling unit equipment. Since McClure is an MEP design firm that provides commissioning services as well as acoustical analysis, our unique skill set was able to identify the issue and provide assistance in remediation. 
  • Field observations using our own equipment (including temperature measurements, deployment of data loggers, pressurization measurement, and thermal imaging) were used to assist in an evaluation of the building envelope performance. 
  • When the contracting team could not determine the source of operating deficiency in a condenser water pump, McClure provided assistance to identify an overflow condition with the pump. Additionally, a defective balance valve and motor soft-start setting was found to be competing with the pump operation, preventing the contracting team from acquiring the readings required for the design team to verify impeller trim requirements. Ultimately, all of the deficiencies were corrected, the required readings were made, and pump operation was modified to match design. 
  • Inadequate construction features of electrical boxes to facilitate proper sealing of penetrations to support pressurization of the BSL-3 research space were identified and rectified to provide the space performance required.

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