A beautiful new apartment building graces the Baltimore skyline. Billed as a “lifestyle experience,” the 44-story, 394-unit complex at 414 Light Street offers luxury living on the historic Inner Harbor in the heart of the city. From the stylish, gold-accented lobby and seventh-floor urban park, to a skyline swimming pool lined with cabanas, a private fitness club with a yoga and movement studio, this building has redefined high-end urban living in Baltimore, branding itself as the place “where effortless living is the everyday.”
Completed in 2018, 414 Light Street is the tallest residential building in Maryland. Sightseers, residents and visitors alike admire the tower, but few know the effort that went into the build — and that construction complications and a compressed schedule could have stalled the project, leaving an unfinished building where this iconic skyscraper now stands.
The Poole and Kent Corp., headquartered in Baltimore, was responsible for the fast-track installation of the HVAC infrastructure at 414 Light Street. Over the last 70 years, Poole and Kent has established a reputation as an expert in commercial mechanical design and construction services, and has managed an impressive range of projects, including biotech research facilities and hospitals, mixed-use commercial buildings, mission critical data centers, energy plants and hospitality gaming and sports arenas.
The first challenge facing Poole and Kent on this project was its demanding timeline.
“We took over the project from another mechanical contractor,” explains Donald Campbell, senior vice president at Poole and Kent. “We were brought onto the project six to eight months later than is typical for a project of this size and scope.”
For Poole and Kent, that meant the project was immediately behind schedule; in fact, they only had 10 months until the first residents were scheduled to move in and 65 days to complete the mechanical room. As their team nailed down near-term needs and prioritized work, they realized the need for a design partner to assist with the pre-construction modeling of the penthouse mechanical room, allowing them to continue with other tasks.
According to Campbell, the mechanical room posed several challenges, including its limited spatial size, the number of systems and the large diameter piping that needed to be installed within it and the fact that the architect had placed it on the top floor — all of which needed to be taken into account during both the layout and construction.
“We realized very quickly Victaulic had the technical capability and resources to provide the services necessary,” says Campbell. Leveraging the company’s Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) team, Poole and Kent “looked to Victaulic as a strategic partner.”
Collaboration at its finest
The spatial constraints were a particular challenge for Poole and Kent’s BIM Manager, Jeff Bishop, who says the low ceiling heights complicated the design.
“We used Autodesk software to overcome some of the constraints, using clash detection spatial coordination throughout the trades,” he says.
According to Bishop, working with Victaulic’s VDC team was like working with an extension of his own.
Moving quickly to the fabrication stage was critical.
“We knew we needed to utilize a software platform that would enable us to expedite some of the coordination processes so we could begin fabrication and get caught back up with the original schedule,” says Campbell.
As experts in the field, Victaulic’s VDC team put Navisworks and Revit to work, along with the company’s proprietary software, Victaulic Tools For Revit, to create models within a tolerance of 1/16 inch. The software also enabled easy file transfers to the Poole and Kent team, streamlining the preconstruction process. All components installed in the mechanical room, including vibration isolation pump drops, strainers, triple duty valves and the connections used for the heat exchanger, were Victaulic products.
Victaulic’s BIM Piping Coordinator, Josh MacMurray, explains accuracy was only one of the many benefits provided by the software.
“It allowed us to be efficient,” he says. “Our product families and system preferences are designed into the software, which allowed Victaulic to turn drawings around quickly.”
Campbell recognizes Victaulic’s experienced team and their strong communication strategy with Poole and Kent contributed to keeping the project on track from the beginning.
“We had regular meetings to share models and work out any conflicts that existed between the drawings along the way,” he says. “Working with Victaulic VDC on this job was a seamless process. We were in constant communication regarding delivery dates, meeting project needs and identifying potential areas for equipment placement.”
This communication allowed the VDC team to identify and prevent several potential issues during the drawing process. It also eased the piping installation in the mechanical room, as VDC delivered designs optimized for constructability and maintainability.
Poole and Kent Superintendent Tom Major was glad to have a partner that could handle the project’s restrictive timeline.
“We had 65 days to finish a mechanical room that normally would have been done in 10 months,” he says. “We successfully completed it in 50 days in the field. Victaulic positively impacted our build schedule — they were able to provide timely drawings and material spools and we were able to get the material cut, packaged, labeled and ready for the jobsite.”
“The general contractor and owner were not convinced it was going to be possible to meet such a short deadline,” he adds. “But we were able to make it happen with the help of Victaulic.”