24/7 Customer Service 301-315-6260

Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington

Mt. Vernon, VA

Construction Manager: The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company
Architect: Ayres/Saint/Gross Architects
Engineer: Mueller Associates
Contract Amount: $4,844,201
Start Date: June, 2011
Completion Date: June, 2013


September 27, 2013 marked the official ribbon cutting ceremony for the recently completed Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington. The new 45,000 square foot Library, located on a 15-acre parcel of land adjacent to George Washington’s Mount Vernon historical estate, was 100% privately funded by contributions raised by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. The prestigious Library is now the safeguarded home to thousands of Washington’s letters, journals, documents and family collections, and also provides an atmosphere for scholarly research and leadership training.

Shapiro & Duncan Inc. was honored to play a part in this notable project as the plumbing and HVAC contractor under the construction management team of The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company. The distinguished design team included Mueller Associates Inc. serving as the M/E/P Engineering firm and Ayers-Saint-Gross Architects & Planners.

The biggest challenge associated with this project was finalizing the design details and executing the installation for the piping connection to the remote air-cooled condensing chiller, located 1,000 feet down the entrance road from the Library at a significantly higher elevation. It is quite unique to have a chiller located that far away from the structure being cooled. Overcoming this challenge meant direct-burying 6-inch chilled water return and supply piping from the Library to the chiller and back. In laying this piping, we had to stay along the edge of the road, mimic the curve of the road and follow the road alignment without impeding tree conservation areas. At the same time, we had to coordinate closely with Dominion Power and the Fairfax County Water Authority, the underground utilities following the same route, to make sure layout and installation were exact.


Extensive project pre-planning and coordination, including close cooperation between Shapiro & Duncan’s building information modeling (BIM) team and our 51,000-square-foot fabrication shop in Landover, Maryland, were big parts of the mechanical solution for this project.

Our BIM process played a key role in the interior mechanical and plumbing solution. All of the plumbing and mechanical systems were modeled in NavisWorks Manage during the early composite trade coordination process to ensure fit and constructability. Collaborative participation included the project’s designers, construction management team and electrical, fire protection, plumbing, HVAC and sheet metal trades. Shapiro & Duncan led the coordination efforts to detect clashes and updated the 3D model with the teams clash resolutions.

To maintain the construction schedule, the plumbing and HVAC piping was assembled and delivered to the site from the fabrication shop, which used spool drawings created by our BIM team to build sections of pipe to the maximum length.

Here is a rundown of the components in the final mechanical solution:

  • Heating hot water for the Library is provided by two Cleaver-Brooks high efficiency gas-fired condensing boilers.
  • Bell & Gossett loop circulation pumps controlled by Yaskawa variable frequency drives distribute hot water to heating coils in three Carrier air handling units and to their associated Titus VAV boxes with reheat coils; Carrier fan coil units; Rittling cabinet unit heaters and zoned perimeter fin tube radiation.
  • Building cooling is provided by a remotely located Daikin-McQuay air-cooled chiller which is strategically located away from the Library and served by more than six football field lengths of direct-bury piping manufactured by Perma-Pipe.
  • Bell & Gossett loop circulation pumps deliver the chilled water to the AHU coils and fan coil units.
  • A Carrier heat recovery chiller with a Witt dry cooler and Bell & Gossett heat exchanger are used for primary operation in the energy efficient heat recovery mode.
  • Supplemental building ventilation is provided by various Greenheck supply and exhaust fans.
  • A Tigerflow triplex booster pump system is installed at the incoming domestic water service and domestic hot water is generated by a PVI 125-gallon gas-fired water heater.

One unique element of our solution is the Carrier air handling unit serving the prominent Rare Books & Manuscripts, Special Collections suite and Stacks area, which was designed to include Herrmidifier electronic steam humidifiers with duct mounted distribution tubes to maintain optimal humidity ranges for preservation of the historical documents. A custom filter rack houses pre, final and special carbon filters to protect against airborne contaminants.

Shapiro & Duncan’s solution is not limited to the Library itself. Located just 150 feet from the Library is the well-appointed DeVos House, the new scholar’s residence for visiting fellows. This custom 6,000 square foot ‘mini-hotel’ consists of eight guest rooms and apartments, kitchen and living areas. The DeVos House is served by a stand-alone Panasonic variable refrigerant flow (VRF) system consisting of three condensing units serving multiple ceiling cassette units. This system provides both heating and cooling with individual zone control. Bosch gas-fired tankless water heaters serve the domestic hot water system.


The project was finished on time and within budget, and the customer is very pleased with the result. As a footnote, the new Library is on schedule to receive LEED Silver certification.

The successful completion of this project was a team effort in which our field crews, our planning department and our fabrication shop crews all played commendable roles. An exclamation point has been added to the job by Shapiro & Duncan’s service department, who won the service and planned maintenance contract for this facility.