Northrop High School

Fort Wayne Community Schools, a school district in Fort Wayne, Indiana, that serves nearly 30,000 students, has been undertaking referendum-funded projects to keep their facilities operating efficiently and effectively. In 2017, Primary Engineering was selected to oversee the $38.4 million renovation of Northrop High School, built in 1971 and home to approximately 2,000 students.

The project included upgrading aging mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems as well as building finishes, exterior envelope, code compliance, and ADA accessibility. Work began in Spring 2018 and is expected was completed in 2021.

The fast-paced phasing for this project was complicated by the aging MEP systems in the nearly 50-year-old structure, and having to work around the school needs and schedules resulting in there being limited available periods for construction and design. A very tight construction labor market also presented challenges, so the development of a detailed phasing plan was critical to allow the work to occur and milestones to be met by the available labor.

Another important aspect of this project was the design of the HVAC system as the old high temp hot water heating plant was converted to a low temp plant. This will increase the boiler plant efficiency from 89% to 96% through the heating season for a net reduction in utility costs. Additionally, the electrical systems were fully upgraded with a new emergency generator and associated distribution while the communications network got a complete overhaul with new 10 gigabyte fiber backbones and new MDF and IDF rooms to service the building’s technology needs.

Primary Engineering’s role was to provide full MEP and fire protection design for all buildings and additions. The most notable design features included all LED lighting for energy savings, hybrid heat pumps for the apartment buildings, dry-system fire protection for the parking garages, and a custom rooftop natatorium HVAC unit with energy recovery wheel and all aluminum ductwork.

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