MILWAUKEE - Johnson Controls Inc. was recently awarded a $1.7 million contract to provide the systems and technology that will control critical indoor environments at the new National Audio-Visual Conservation Center (NAVCC) being built near Culpeper, Va.

The Johnson Controls Web-based Metasys® building management system will manage all temperature and humidity controls for the 415,000-square-foot complex, which consists of a Collections Building, a Nitrate Vault Building, a Conservation Building, and a central plant building. The Metasys system will also control power loads for energy management throughout the campus. The NAVCC will be the new home of the Library of Congress Motion Picture Broadcasting and Recorded Sound division. The Library acquired its first motion pictures in 1893 and now has an estimated four million items in its audiovisual collection. The collection is currently housed in seven facilities spread across four states and the District of Columbia.

Temperature and humidity controls are critical for all audio and moving image recordings, but particularly for films that were made on silver nitrate film stock, which was the standard film material until 1951. Film on nitrate stock can deteriorate quickly when stored at room temperature. An added concern is that as it disintegrates nitrate film stock becomes potentially explosive. The NAVCC will include 122 nitrate vaults to store these films. The vaults must be controlled to a consistent temperature and humidity and are all Class 1, Division 2 explosion proof.

"The Metasys building management system's XML-based technology and Web-based user interface are well-suited to a project like the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center. The Metasys system architecture will help ensure that this valuable collection is maintained in optimal conditions, and that the center itself can continue to grow and pursue its mission of preserving this legacy," said Mike Crowe, vice president, system technology, Johnson Controls.

The NAVCC is being built at the site of a former Federal Reserve backup operations center, which was almost completely underground. The first phase of construction involves excavating that building and converting it to the Collections Building, which will house the sound and moving images collection. Phase I also includes the central plant, which will be built into the hillside behind the Collections Building.

Phase II includes the Conservation Building, which also houses a new main office building for preservation and administrative staff; film, sound, and video preservation laboratories; and the nitrate vaults. The entire complex will be re-buried once it is completed, with sod roofs blending into the existing hillside.

Johnson Controls is working with DPR Construction Inc. on the project. Completion of Phase I is expected in August 2005. The NAVCC is being constructed through a private-public partnership between the Packard Humanities Institute and the Library of Congress.

Publication date: 06/20/2005