Articles Tagged with: Russ Neithammer

HUP: Q&A with Russ Neithammer

Ballinger’s electrical engineers are celebrating the completion of a long-term project to replace the 15 kV medium-voltage power switchgear in Penn Medicine’s Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP).

The University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine was the nation’s first medical school and remains a renowned center of research and clinical excellence. HUP is the oldest university-owned teaching hospital in the country and sees over 72,000 patients per year. Ballinger has worked with them over the last ten years on the planning and implementation of several major electrical power projects, with the end goal of replacing the 15 kV medium voltage main service entrance switchgear for this prestigious institution.  Chief Electrical Engineer, Russ Neithammer explained Ballinger’s approach to this monumental project.

What was this project all about?

RUSS NEITHAMMER: The overall goal was to upgrade the over 70-year-old 15 kV medium voltage utility service entrance switchgear, leading to an improvement in overall reliability, simplified maintenance, and a reduction in exposure to catastrophic failure. We started with a feasibility study in which we identified a number of approaches to replacing the switchgear and to upgrading lighting, HVAC, fire sprinkler protection, and egress provisions in the hospital’s main electrical equipment vault to meet current code requirements and to be consistent with other University electrical service facilities.

What sort of options did you consider?

RN: Each approach had its pros, cons, and risks.   For switchgear replacement, we considered many options. For example, we looked at a vacuum circuit breaker retrofit into existing switchgear cubicles, installing the new switchgear in the existing location, and installing it in an adjacent transformer vault location.

How did you decide which approach to take?

RN: It was essential that there be no disruptions to hospital operations in the process of replacing the service entrance switchgear.  This meant that we had to have a design that minimized the time required for any single outage as we changed over from the old switchgear to the new, while also allowing for the option of temporarily backing out to existing conditions if we encountered problems during any of the outage work.  Continuity of operations and constructability were the key drivers that informed all major design decisions.

That sounds complex. What methods did you use to make that possible?

RN: We designed the switchgear installation with constructability in mind right from the start.  The design option that resulted in the least amount of risk to hospital operations was the one that allowed for installation and energization of the new switchgear in the adjacent transformer vault before removal of the old.  This allowed us to move loads from the existing to the new switchgear via separate, sequential outages for each of the feeders.

The initial challenge was that before we could address replacement of the main switchgear, the active 2400V transformers in the transformer vault had to be removed from service.   This meant that the entire existing 2400V distribution system (a holdover from the early 1900’s) had to be eliminated.  We accomplished that by executing two predecessor enabling projects.  First, we replaced the 2400V switchgear and transformation (to 480V) in the Dulles building portion of the HUP complex.  Our second enabling project involved the construction of a new building that houses transformation (to 480V) and distribution to the three oldest buildings of the HUP complex.  As with the replacement of the main substation, each of the enabling projects had its own constructability issues, which were addressed in a similar manner to the main substation project, i.e., install and energize the new equipment before removing the existing equipment.  Completing the enabling projects eliminated all loads on the existing 2400V transformers, thus allowing them to be removed from the transformer vault and freeing up the space we needed to completely install and energize the new switchgear and move the feeders.

With an empty transformer vault, construction work leading to installation and energization could go forward, requiring only two short utility outages to tie in and energize the new switchgear and make it ready to accept load as the feeder moves were executed.

What takeaways do you have after 10 years on this project?

RN: Overall, communication throughout the process was the key to executing the project with minimal disruption to hospital operations. The design and construction staff, operations staff, clinical staff, construction manager, design assist electrical contractor, design engineer, and PECO (the electrical utility serving HUP) were all involved throughout the entire process. Likewise, although this project had a heavy electrical focus, architecture and all of Ballinger’s engineering disciplines played significant roles.

Approaching the project with this level of communication meant that the design constructability was understood by all parties.   This understanding led to detailed outage planning for the best possible coordination with hospital operations. The result was a process with minimal design changes or surprises and a project executed on-time and well within budget.

University of Michigan Taubman Health Sciences Library Achieves LEED Gold

On February 22, 2016, the University of Michigan’s A. Alfred Taubman Health Sciences Library achieved LEED Gold Status.

The new library contains simulation suites, classrooms, collaboration labs, and study areas. Ballinger led the Medical School through a comprehensive project formation and benchmarking effort to determine the most effective design for a 21st century library space. The resulting 137,000-square-foot addition and renovation transformed the building into a light-filled, flexible facility that promotes collaboration and hands-on learning. In addition to programming, Ballinger served as the design architect and worked closely with local architect of record TMP Architecture.

Ballinger’s design rejuvenated the building by replacing the windowless brick walls with nearly 18,000 square feet of low-e glass. Double-height, naturally-lit lounges create an open, transparent environment.

Student and faculty can choose from a wide variety of flexible study and meeting space.   A new café and lounge welcome students and encourage spontaneous inter-disciplinary collaboration. Students hone their skills in THSL’s 30 realistic patient care rooms and by using the Anatomage Table, a life-sized interactive visualization system for anatomy education.

Rutgers Dedicates New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition & Health


A dedication ceremony for the New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition & Health took place Tuesday. The IFNH is a signature initiative by Rutgers University to provide research and education related to society’s pressing challenges in cardio-inflammatory disease, cancer and obesity.

The Ballinger-designed interdisciplinary research building is the centerpiece of the Institute. The iconic building is transparent to nature, inviting faculty, students and the community to engage in the nutrition and health activities housed within. A large solar “parasol” becomes the organizing feature of the design.

New Jersey Institute for Food Nutrition & Health at Rutgers College: New Brunswick, NJ, Architect: Ballinger Architects

The building features a student health clinic, a human performance lab, a nutrition research clinic, a healthy eating courtyard, and a preschool dedicated to educating parents and children on diet and nutrition. The remaining spaces house wet and dry labs, faculty and administrative offices, and outreach meeting spaces.

Ceremony attendees included New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, Rutgers president Dr. Robert Barchi, the Institute’s Director Dr. Peter Gillies, and Ballinger’s own Jeff French and Craig Spangler, among others.

Ballinger’s Johns Hopkins University Undergraduate Teaching Labs wins AIA PA Award

Ballinger’s addition and renovation of the Johns Hopkins University Undergraduate Teaching Labs received an Honor Award at Thursday’s AIA Pennsylvania Design Awards Gala. The 2015 Architectural Excellence Design Awards celebrate exceptional architecture and design.

Light-filled and open, the Undergraduate Teaching Labs put interdisciplinary learning on display. Ballinger designed the active learning and research facility for Johns Hopkins University’s biology, chemistry, neuroscience and biophysics departments.

 

A Library for Medical Education and the Digital Age

A ceremony marking the re-opening of the A. Alfred Taubman Health Sciences Library (THSL) at the University of Michigan took place Wednesday 9/16 in Ann Arbor. Once home to over 500,000 books and journals, the THSL is now a technologically-advanced learning space with simulation suites, classrooms, collaboration labs, and study areas. Ballinger led the Medical School through a comprehensive project formation and benchmarking effort to determine the most effective design for a 21st century library space. The resulting 137,000 SF addition and renovation transformed the building into a light-filled, flexible facility that promotes collaboration and hands-on learning. In addition to programming, Ballinger served as the design architect and worked closely with local architect of record TMP Architecture.

Ballinger Wins Two Philadelphia AIA Awards

Two Ballinger projects were honored with Design Awards from the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The awards program recognizes the best in architectural design among AIA Philadelphia members.

Ballinger’s Undergraduate Teaching Labs at Johns Hopkins University received an Honor Award. Light-filled and open, the four-story building accommodates a variety of teaching methods and learning styles, and its flexible and open layout enables cross-disciplinary learning and research opportunities.

The Nexus Building at Adelphi University received a Silver Award, the highest honor in the Unbuilt category. Ballinger provided architecture, planning, interior design and engineering services for this innovative learning environment prominently located at the entrance to Adelphi’s campus.