William Jones College Preparatory High School

New construction: William Jones College Preparatory High School; Primera Engineers Ltd.


William Jones High School. Courtesy P+W: Project RenderingProject name: William Jones College Preparatory High School

Location: Chicago, Ill.

Firm name: Primera Engineers Ltd.

Project type, building type: New construction, school (K-12)

Project duration: 3 years

Project completion date: July, 2013

Project budget for mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection engineering only: $90 million

Engineering challenges

This project involved the design of a 280,000-sq-ft replacement school serving 1,200 students located in downtown Chicago, adjacent to an underground rail system. This is a high-rise building housing classrooms, computer and science laboratories, art and music studios, administrative and support services, a library, and a full-service dining facility. It also includes a parking garage, athletic facilities, a natatorium, and fine and performing arts theater. This project needed to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council LEED Gold rating and is striving for LEED Platinum. Additional challenges involved coordinating the MEP/FP and electrical/Information technology pathways with the structure and architectural features and compliance with the Chicago Building Code.


The William Jones High School BIM of MEP system is shown.Sustainable concepts involved an energy-efficient HVAC system using a dedicated outside air distribution system. This system offers unique advantages over the traditional VAV system such as guaranteed ventilation air to meet air quality and building pressurization needs, significantly reduced duct sizes allowing for efficient floor-to-floor heights, superior humidity control, and energy recovery from building exhaust air. The electrical lighting design used LED lamps, occupancy/vacancy sensors, and daylight harvesting controls. The heating hot water and domestic hot water systems used condensing boiler technology with projected boiler efficiencies exceeding 90%. The construction documents were generated via BIM. The modeling included all ductwork, piping, and conduit greater than 3-in. in diameter; and all equipment, electrical pull boxes, light fixtures, panels, fan coils, and ceiling-mounted devices. The building models were traded between all designers on a weekly basis and clash detection was performed periodically to address conflicts. Primera worked with the architect and specialty consultants, which included swimming pool designers, kitchen designers, AV and acoustic designers, theatrical lighting designers, interior designers, and security designers.

This project included incorporating many design iterations to meet budget constraints via value management over an aggressive design phase schedule period. Additionally, in order to comply with the Chicago Building Code, an emergency generator had to be installed in the building. The location was selected in the basement of the parking garage to limit generator noise to the neighbors. Standard design for Chicago Public Schools requires the use of gas-driven generators. Placement of the generator room in the basement severely limited the amount of cooling air that could have been delivered to the generator. In order to locate a gas generator in the space with limited access to outside air, a remote radiator would have been necessary. The design team developed a preliminary design and compared first installation cost versus cost of ownership for two options: diesel versus gas generators. By switching from the gas generator to a diesel-driven generator, the design team was able to keep the generator in the most desirable location while minimizing installation first cost.

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