Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association

ACCO Engineered Systems Creates a Hub of Medical—and HVAC—Advancement

Michelson Completed ProjectSMACNA contractor ACCO Engineered Systems, Glendale, California, got the call to complete a fast-track construction project for their client, the University of Southern California’s new Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience based just 40 miles away in Los Angeles, California.

Using BIM modeling and multiple crane rigs, they installed thousands of pounds of ductwork using strict clean procedures. Both the BIM modeling and multiple crane use enabled ACCO Engineered Systems to deliver the fast-track project on time.

Designed to tackle some of the most critical health issues of our time, the USC Michelson Center was built to bring together medical researchers from various fields for interdisciplinary collaboration on serious health problems including cancer research, diabetes treatments, and search for non-addictive opioids.

Michelson Detail Photo 2The institution required a 190,000 square-foot research facility with state-of-the-art open, shared laboratories, a nanofabrication cleanroom, a low-vibration laboratory, a suite of microscopy imaging technology, two large microscopes, and area to accommodate 60 eight-foot chemical fume hoods.

ACCO Engineered Systems’ Costa Mesa team, part of one of the largest environmental firms in the western United States, took on this challenge. ACCO had experience working with complex chemical exhaust and scrubber systems, and had the unique duct materials necessary to complete the job including galvanized sheet metal, stainless steel, aluminum, fiberglass, and black iron. ”Our sheet metal general foreman used his experience with complex industrial installations, cleanroom construction, and bolted, welded stainless steel duct construction to install the highest quality products possible,” noted Nick Pattin Sr., ACCO’s senior project manager.

Michelson Detail Photo 4To reduce contamination during installation, ACCO cleaned and bagged all ductwork at the shop. The ACCO team installed all the ductwork in the cleanrooms using clean protocol procedures. With air quality and system contamination concerns in mind, they delivered coated, welded stainless steel duct for the corrosive exhaust system.

ACCO’s experience in virtual design and construction was also crucial, as the original 3-D model of the Michelson Center was incomplete and therefore not constructible. The BIM detailing crew then worked closely with the overall design team to build an accurate 3-D model of the project. They planned the roof structural system to accommodate the 120-inch by 96-inch supply manifold, 120-inch by 36-inch return air manifold, 96-inch by 96-inch welded stainless steel lab exhaust, and a volatile organic compounds (VOC) exhaust manifold, with all the building exhaust terminating in 35-foot-tall engineered stacks.

Michelson Detail Photo 1Adding a further challenge, midway through the project the ACCO team found they needed to completely redraw the 3-D model at the third and fourth floors to accommodate additional lab buildout—all while holding to the original completion date.

Specializing in large scale, fast-tracked projects like this one, ACCO coordinated the use of multiple large crane rigs for rooftop equipment installation. The 550-ton hydraulic, all-terrain crane worked nonstop hoisting materials and equipment as the large sections of roof duct were prefabbed and then delivered on time during the three-day roof rig phase. Strategies like this helped alleviate the pressure of installing the 12 air handlers, totaling 310,000 CFM, in pieces and building them up on the roof. The installation sequence was key due to the multiple layers of MEP utilities. Coordination with electrical and plumbing was critical, including shared support racks. The peak sheet metal crew reached 45 individuals. Between shop fabrication and field installation, more than 110,000 man-hours were required to install over 541,000 pounds of sheet metal for this project.

The complexity, collaboration, and craftsmanship of the pioneering project won ACCO Engineered Systems the CAL-SMACNA’s 2018 Tom Guilfoy Craftsmanship Award in the mechanical category.