Since 1928, the historic Embassy Theatre and Indiana Hotel have been fixtures in downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana. In 2016, an $11 million project was completed that utilized unused space in the hotel portion, vacant since the 1970s, for a large, two-story ball room, meeting rooms, executive offices. To enhance these areas, a rooftop patio was added. The project also added new concessions areas to the main lobby, a renovated donor lounge space, a history center, backstage laundry facilities, and updated dressing rooms. Primary Engineering’s role was to design new HVAC and lighting systems to bring the structure up to date while also increasing energy efficiency.
The design challenges for this project were extensive. As the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, its historic architectural features, including the windows, had to be maintained. The limited structural floor to floor heights affected the ability to route heating and cooling systems within the space resulting in a unique HVAC design where several fan coil units, located below the windows along the perimeter of the ballroom space, were used to supply full heating and cooling for large events. This required no ductwork and used an integral bench to provide a route for the piping on each floor. Ventilation was supplied using a limited amount of ductwork in the service spaces that would allow for the full height ceilings and not require several penetrations through the exterior walls, preserving the historic façade.
The lighting design included several custom wall sconces and chandeliers to match those in the historic lobby space. For the rooftop patio, an LED edge lit system, with fully controllable DMX integration, was installed around the perimeter allowing staff to adjust the color to match the mood of an event or theme.
The project was the 2017 BCA of Northeast Indiana award winner for “Best Project Over $2 Million.”