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Confidential Client: Data Center

Confidential Client: Data Center Virginia
General Contractor: HITT Contracting
Architect: Corgan
Engineer: KW Mission Critical Engineering
Start Date: 1/22/2016
Completion Date: 6/1/2016


Project Goliath is Shapiro & Duncan’s internal project code name for a 291,000 square foot addition to the Northern Virginia Data Center, a state-of-the-art, enterprise class facility. The existing 129,000 square foot facility is one of more than 30 data centers located across the U.S., Europe and Asia. The addition includes more than 240,000 square feet of raised floor space housing four independent computer room environments incorporating redundant backup for the building’s HVAC systems.

The biggest challenge confronting Shapiro & Duncan’s project team was a very aggressive schedule that allowed only five months (January 22, 2016 to June 22, 2016) from preconstruction to completion of functional systems. The contract was awarded on 1/22/16 and our team began coordination and project documentation the next day, 1/23/16. In order to accommodate the project schedule, all personnel and other resources provided by Shapiro & Duncan and our subcontractors had to be structured for a 24/7 work schedule. Teams were established with team leaders and crews tailored to meet the needs of the key tasks at hand. Welding equipment, tools and logistics had to be preplanned accordingly.

Jobsite logistics was a tremendous hurdle for our team and all of the trades due to the limited amount of area around the footprint of the building. All deliveries had to be pre-planned and coordinated through the general contractor, HITT Contracting, to avoid congestion, delays and safety issues while off-loading materials. For the most part, deliveries of mechanical equipment and piping were made in the evenings and over weekends, often during inclement weather. In bad weather, additional precautions to maintain quality control standards were required. The full inventory of HVAC systems and equipment included:

  • Twenty 553-ton roof-mounted Air Cooled Chillers
  • Twenty 50-HP in-line pumps with Variable Frequency Drives
  • Sixty 154-ton computer room Air Handlers
  • Sixteen Humidifiers
  • Three packaged rooftop Air Handling Units
  • Forty-seven Variable Air Volume boxes
  • Two chilled water Fan Coil Units
  • Water Treatment Systems
  • Approximately 18,000 feet of welded steel and copper Chilled Water Piping
  • Sump Pump Systems for dewatering and condensate removal
  • Leak detection systems
  • Pipe Freeze Protection Systems
  • Automated Temperature Control Systems
  • Custom Spiral Ductwork serving office and corridor spaces
  • Custom Pipe Covering (insulation) and Duct Insulation Systems
  • Plumbing Fixtures serving office restrooms, breakrooms and janitor rooms
  • Plumbing Piping Systems for domestic water, sanitary and storm water


Shapiro & Duncan’s team swiftly implemented a strategic plan that assembled personnel in teams to tackle the project in a building block approach. This approach was essential in order to facilitate coordination, design, fabrication, delivery and placement of approximately 18,000 feet of welded steel HVAC piping ranging in sizes from 10” to 3” diameter.

Key to this coordination process was Shapiro & Duncan’s Building Information Management (BIM)/Virtual Design Coordination (VDC) system, which is used to troubleshoot mechanical and plumbing designs in conjunction with other trades. Job-specific project documentation (i.e., submittal data, shop drawings, etc.) was accelerated in order to provide needed product information to the BIM/VDC team. As segments of the BIM/VDC process was completed and the coordination drawings approved by all trades, the designs were forwarded to Shapiro & Duncan’s procurement team and our 51,000 square foot fabrication facility in Landover, MD.

To jumpstart the fabrication effort, deliveries of bulk materials from local vendors were immediately expedited. Approximately one week following contract award, fabrication of piping systems commenced so that piping systems could be completed and loaded on flat-bed trailers in anticipation of delivery to the jobsite per the project schedule.

Piping assemblies including both supply and return lines – complete with pipe supports, insulation inserts, valves, fittings, specialties, pumps and air separators, in sections up to 40 feet in length – were pre-manufactured, numbered and truck-loaded in a sequence corresponding with the general contractor’s schedule. There were over 60 tractor-trailer loads of piping delivered in this fashion. Piping and equipment deliveries were staged so that the material went into the building and quickly came together in erector set fashion, thus expediting the time needed to make final welded connections, test and insulate piping systems.

Shapiro & Duncan’s coordination solution was not limited to piping assemblies. Layout and placement of Chilled Water Piping as well as Computer Room Air Handling (CRAH) Units not only required extensive coordination with the work of other trades, but also scoping out the logistics of sharing limited laydown space. More intricate coordination was required for placement of piping on both the low and the high roofs of the building. Piping materials, pumps and related equipment were staged on the unfinished roof, prior to placement of rooftop steel dunnage and the 20 Air Cooled Chillers. Prefabricated piping/pump assemblies were strategically placed in position on the roof so that the steel dunnage could be erected above the piping, with the piping then lifted to connect to the underside of the steel. This approach eliminated the need to man-handle large pumps and piping under the steel after it was erected, thus saving time and eliminating the potential for damaging the roof substrate.

Upon completion of the erection of the steel dunnage platforms by subcontractors, the Air Cooled Chillers were then craned into place on top of the steel dunnage. This required the use of a 460-ton Crawler Crane. The pre-engineered piping was then connected to each Chiller and tied into the piping extending into the building.

Inside the building, over 5,000 feet of pre-engineered Custom Leak Detection Systems were installed beneath the various runs of underfloor chilled water piping. The Leak Detection System is designed to identify the presence and exact location of a water leak, should one occur, and immediately alert the building engineer via the building automation system.

One more unique aspect of Shapiro & Duncan’s mechanical solution for this enterprise class data center is the building’s Chilled Water System. This system is equipped with Automatic Control Valves designed to divert water flow from one area of the building to another, so that the cooling needs of any computer room can be supplied from any of the chillers and pumps installed.


Project Goliath has been a perfect opportunity for Shapiro & Duncan to demonstrate how its dedication to customer satisfaction, hard work, innovation, technology and a structured team approach can deliver outstanding results in the construction of a multi-faceted mechanical construction solution – even under the most challenging schedule and difficult conditions. Hallmarks of this project included:

  • Timeliness of deliveries;
  • Ingenuity of pre-construction;
  • Smooth coordination and precise design of piping systems;
  • Meticulous prefabrication sequencing in concert with project schedule and the work of other trades; and
  • Superior quality of workmanship.

This project was also noteworthy for the larger team effort that resulted in the mutual success of all parties including the owner, general contractor, Shapiro & Duncan and our subcontractors. In particular, the team-spirited approach fostered by HITT was key to the overall success of this project. Open lines of communication and unhindered dialog allowed everyone to work together while accommodating the individual needs of all.