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Project Spotlight: Penn Station Service Center

Beneath the streets of New York, under the historic Penn Station Service Building, lies a complex network of plumbing systems dating back to the building’s construction in 1908. Designed by Charles McKim and William Symmes Richardson, this infrastructure served a variety of essential functions for the bustling transportation hub.

Among the complex power systems are water mains, ranging in size and material composition, which supplied water for various purposes such as drinking, sanitation, and firefighting. Now the Penn Service Station is part of the massive rennovations as part of the “Penn District” overhaul that Helm BIM is proud to take part in.  

Given the age of the infrastructure and the continuous development of the city, these plumbing systems have undergone modifications, repairs, or upgrades over the years to adapt to changing needs and technologies. The presence of such systems beneath the Penn Station Service Building underscores the critical role they play in supporting the city’s infrastructure and daily operations.


As Helm BIM conducts their evaluation and proposes modifications to these plumbing systems, they must consider the historical context, existing conditions, and the intricate interconnections between different utilities to ensure the integrity and functionality of the infrastructure beneath one of New York City’s iconic landmarks. 

Helm BIM Steps

  1. 3D Laser Scan Existing Conditions – Helm 3D Laser Scanned the area beneath the Penn Station Service Center where the proposed plumbing work would take place. This included a mechanical room beneath the building on the west side where the two pipes would need to penetrate the building. Helm then scanned the path within the underground where the two 8-inch pipes should be run. The structural steel on the ceilings of this underground space were in poor condition which will require the new pipe to be held by ground supports.


         2. Analyzing 3D Modeling and Shop Drawings – Helm’s talented engineers and specialists analyze the layout using extracted data from various sources to create fine tuned BIM models  

                           i.          3D Existing Conditions Revit Model – Architectural and structural components

                          ii.          3D Model from Contract Drawing – Piping and existing equipment

                         iii.          Shop & Spool Drawings – Shop drawings for spooled pieces

3. 3D Model Evaluation & Recommendation – Helm processed the scan model and identified optimal routes for the proposed new water lines factoring in all the existing conditions. 

In conclusion, the work Helm BIM is undertaking beneath the Penn Station Service Building is not just about updating infrastructure; it’s about respecting history while adapting for the future. This intricate balance of modernization and preservation underlines the complexity and significance of maintaining New York City’s iconic landmarks. Stay tuned for more insights in this multi-post series, where we’ll delve deeper into the challenges, strategies, and technological innovations driving this essential project.