The Liberty Memorial complex in Kansas City is a place where comfort cooling had to be quiet running and environmentally correct. One of the water-cooled chillers, pictured below, was used in the project.

With more than 49,000 priceless objects and artifacts in the Liberty Memorial Museum’s 30,000-square-foot exhibit space and 20,000-square-foot research center in Kansas City, the only thing there wasn’t room for was error. And that included the chiller technology.

Originally dedicated in 1926 by President Calvin Coolidge, the Liberty Memorial Monument had fallen into disrepair and had closed its doors in 1994.

Concerned Kansas City citizens and civic leaders rallied to restore and reopen the site starting with the 217-foot high Beaux Arts tower and memorial buildings.

Major restoration of the Liberty Memorial Monument began in 1998, following the approval of a half-cent sales tax. In 2004, Kansas City voters overwhelmingly passed a bond issue to renovate and expand the museum flanking the monument. The Missouri state legislature approved additional public funding. Ralph Appelbaum, who designed the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., and National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, was selected to lead the project team.

Consulting engineers for the project, W. L. Cassell & Associates Mechanical and Electrical Engineers, worked with Thermal Components Co., the representative in Kansas City for McQuay Air Conditioning, to select the equipment for the museum’s HVAC system.

Specified as the basis of the design, water-cooled centrifugal chillers were chosen for the project. The museum needed a system with unloading capability, and year-round cooling and humidification control to maintain a constant environment for the valuable exhibits.

The design of the museum is a flat deck, leaving no room for exhaust fans or packaged rooftop units. Therefore water-cooled chillers were the solution.

Hot summers and cold winters are the norm in Kansas City, which meant the chillers would have a light cooling load in the winters and a larger cooling load in the summers. And with the museum being officially named by the U.S. Congress as the National World War I Museum in 2004, tourism officials expected large crowds of visitors that would place higher demands on the chiller plant’s cooling capacity.

During Phase I, the restoration of the building began on the Memorial Tower and two exhibit halls. At that time, the first of two centrifugal chillers was installed. During Phases II and III, when the shell space and the rest of the museum renovation were finished, the second chiller was installed along with McQuay fan coil units in the data closet, elevator, and equipment rooms.

The two 275-ton water-cooled centrifugal chillers cool the 50,000 square feet of exhibit and research space. The museum exhibit areas feature interactive displays with computers, digital videos, plasma screens, fluid maps and light pens. These high-tech exhibits generate a lot of heat, which was another reason that the mechanical system team recommended water-cooled centrifugal chillers. In addition, the small footprint of the chillers allowed for more cooling without requiring floor space that was better used for exhibits.

Small size wasn’t the only factor in selecting the chillers - quiet operation was just as important. The museum is filled with sights and sounds of World War I. Aspects of that were of a reflective nature. To create a quieter running chiller, McQuay engineers came up with a refrigerant injection system to absorb sound energy.

The Liberty Memorial Museum also documents the damage the war did to the environment. In fact, one exhibit is a 20 feet in diameter by 15-foot deep crater that shows what would be left of a building hit by a World War I explosive.

With examples of environmental damage like this, Thermal Components recognized the need to recommend a product that would help to preserve and protect the environment. The chillers chosen have a positive pressure design and use HFC-134a, which has no ozone depletion potential, making it an environmentally sound choice for the museum.

The renovated, expanded National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial officially opened its doors on Dec. 2, 2006 as a monument to “courage, honor, patriotism, and sacrifice.”

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Publication date:05/07/2007