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Hospital: Cooling Tower and Mechanical Pipe Replacement

The Helm Team was called upon to assist in a large cooling tower and pipe replacement at Hospital in New York, NY. Introducing 3D Laser scanning and Building Information Modeling helped the building owner and project engineer better understand the existing space and site conditions. Helm provided accurate information, shared models and visual information, needed to realize an optimal design. 

What did this project involve?

  • Disassembling and removing four large cooling towers from the rooftop of the hospital 
  • Removing the associated 30” pipe below the cooling towers
  • Value Engineering new piping relative to cooling tower openings and existing structural steel

Helm’s Project Objectives:

  • Understand and document the existing conditions 
  • Evaluate with Client which areas of pipe will be replaced
  • Value Engineer new pipe routing to and from cooling towers around structural steel

Helm’s BIM Process:

  • 3D Laser Scanning & Existing Conditions Modeling: 
  • We started by both capturing both a point cloud and a 3D VR Tour of the space. The capture area included the hospital’s rooftop, underneath the east and west cooling towers, and the floor below. 
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  • The Point Cloud information we collected was then used to create a 3D Model to better understand the existing conditions
Revit model
  • Benefits of Laser Scanning and As-Built BIM Modeling
    • Assess the overall condition of the existing pipes and structural steel. We found that points at which the client was hoping to weld were oxidized and not suited for a new connection
      • Helm’s Point Cloud and VR Tour helped to clearly identify the condition of structural steel and mechanical pipe. There needs to be a minimum of two inches of non-rusted pipe for a weld to take hold
  • Accurately understand how much space there was to work with
    • The model that the Helm team created was from a point cloud. The team was able to quickly tell that the Helm model was different from the original contract drawings that were being used by the Engineer
    • When the mechanical contractor started designing the 30” pipe below the cooling tower with potential connection points in mind. The scan data made them aware of structural components that they did not account for such as structural beams. These steel beams interfered with connection points where the engineer wanted to fit elbows onto existing piping. Below is an example in the West tower where the engineer intended the elbow to be located.

The second picture is mechanical piping underneath the East Cooling Tower. Below shows the outline of the Engineers intended design. The steel I-beams above were not accounted for when planning the location of the new 30” pipe.

  • Helm Aids in the Value Engineering Process:
    • Helm worked with the Mechanical Contractor and Engineer to establish how the new cooling towers would be oriented. With the orientation established, the team could then begin considering how to reroute mechanical pipe to the connection points at the base of the cooling towers. 
    • The Helm Team helped to provide alternate Mechanical pipe layouts. As a second option Helm asked the engineer if there were steel I Beams that could be adjusted so a new pipe design could be accommodated

The Helm team went through several additional review rounds with the client and engineer to identify a design that worked for the space. The key takeaway from this process is that Laser Scanning and the BIM documentation process helped gather and represent the true as-built conditions so a design solution could be realized far more quickly. Accurate information from the start makes for better decisions by all parties involved.