By: Randy Adrian, Transwestern Director of Engineering, Denver
June 02, 2021
Replacing aging essential equipment at Granite Tower, one of the most iconic office properties in Denver, was not an ordinary engineering project. The building’s 40-year-old, three-cell cooling tower and fluid coolers, which serve the entire block’s 1,900-ton cooling needs, were well past their life expectancy of 20 years. This equipment supported critical operation rooms, IT closets, and 24/7 data centers within the Granite Tower building, and therefore was identified as an important capital improvement long before the onset of COVID-19.
Months of planning by a team that included property owner KBS, Asset Services provider Transwestern Real Estate Services, and commercial HVAC expert Haynes Mechanical Systems, Inc. culminated in a detailed plan to remove and replace – via heavy lift helicopter – approximately 100,000 pounds of equipment, including three cooling tower cells and two new fluid coolers on the roof of the 31-story, 593,527-square-foot Class A office property at 1099 18th Street.
Because a lift of this capacity had never been performed in downtown Denver, the team worked closely with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Denver Police Department to establish protocols, timeline and safety measures. As planned, in March 2021 the helicopter spent 75 minutes in flight, completing the replacement. The scope of work also included installing new variable frequency drives, new valving and an upgrade to the building automation system.
A short video summarizes the project.
While this complex infrastructure upgrade was certainly an engineering feat, it also underscores the importance of capital planning to protect a real estate investment. Granite Tower’s prominence in the city of Denver is due to KBS’s commitment to operational efficiencies, market-leading amenities and occupant comfort, all of which were enhanced through this project.
Equally important, the successful outcome reinforces the value of strong relationships among clients, service providers and partners. Here, this also included coordination with local and federal officials. A project of this scope is costly and comes with significant risk. Careful planning and frequent, detailed communication are imperative to ensure a successful outcome.
In total, 87 participants were on site the day of the left and countless others were involved throughout the process, including KBS, Haynes Mechanical, Transwestern, FAA, Denver Police Department, City and County of Denver, Erickson Skycrane, Jeff’s Welding, MC2 Electric, and Winslow Crane Service. The value of these partnerships cannot be overstated. Thanks to the flawless planning and execution of this upgrade, Granite Tower has set a new standard for replacing aging critical systems and is positioned to thrive for decades to come.
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