Integrated Facility Services (IFS) has completed work on a $10.4 million HVAC, plumbing and fire protection renovation project at the Robert A. Young Federal Building, one of downtown St. Louis’ largest office buildings. The three year project was part of a $75 million design-build project undertook by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) to provide additional shelter-in-place opportunities and safe exiting for the building’s 3,000 occupants in the event of an earthquake. The general contractor was McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. 

Originally constructed in the early 1930s, the 20-story, one-million-square-foot brick and terracotta building faces potential seismic hazards because of its location within the New Madrid fault zone. As the mechanical and fire protection contractor on the project, IFS relocated, replaced and braced mechanical systems, VAV boxes, HVAC ductwork, piping, fire protection and plumbing to accommodate new structural steel braces and seismic dampers that were installed. 

The project represented the first use of seismic dampers in a St. Louis building retrofit and the GSA’s first time using this alternative approach compared to more traditional seismic renovation methods. This novel strategy eliminated the need for 90 percent of the concrete shear walls traditionally required, streamlining the project schedule. 

The design-build team’s innovative solution combined viscous dampers, steel braces and steel sheer walls, enabling all work to be completed while the building was 100 percent occupied by employees from 48 separate government agencies. Additional project elements included seismic bracing of non-structural components such as ceilings; partitions; and mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection systems. 

To complete the project on time and with minimal disruption to government organizations and their employees, construction progressed 21 hours a day— from 6 a.m. to 3 a.m.— with much of the work completed from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. During the project, water and electric service for tenants was never disrupted, and all work was completed with close attention to environmental considerations, including controlling negative air flow, avoiding potential contamination, noise reduction, odor management and other best practices. 

In recognition of the team’s overall commitment to safety, the AGC of Missouri recognized general contractor, McCarthy with a Construction Project Safety Award for completing the project without a recordable incident.

The general contractor was McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. Other design-build team members include Gensler (lead designer and architect of record), Etegra (associate architect) and Thornton Tomasetti (structural engineer), William Tao & Associates, Aschinger Electric and Wilson’s Structural Steel.