Building 11 / National Institutes of Health

Bethesda, MD
Owner National Institutes of Health
General Contractor Bell
Project Duration 8/1997 to 07/2003
Contract Value $89MM
Architect / Engineer Hansen Lind Meyer Architects / Ross Murphy Finkelstein Engineers

Project Overview

Bell was awarded the General Construction Contract by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for the renovation and extension of their existing Chiller Plant at NIH’s Bethesda, Maryland Campus.  This project was part of a multi-phase modernization program to increase the cooling capacity of the existing facility to support NIH’s advancing campus. 

The increased capacity resulted in 55,000 tons of plant capacity.  At the completion of this contract, Building 11 was the largest chiller plant in the United States, exceeding the capacity of the recently constructed chiller plant for The Pentagon (37,000 tons), which was also constructed by Bell BCI Company (1993-1998).  

The initial contract was for the structure to house four (4) 5,000 ton chillers and appropriate support equipment.  Through the course of the contract, NIH solicited and negotiated with Bell to add an additional extension to the expanded facility.  The additional extension included major structural, electrical, controls, site work, mechanical piping and options to add two additional 5,000 ton chillers.  At contract completion, the owner only added one (1) additional 5,000 chiller but all the piping, cooling tower, electrical and controls were all made available for the future chiller; NIH added the sixth (6) under separate contract. 

The Building 11 Expansion Project was for the construction of a 121,000 sq. ft. addition to the existing facility.  The building foundation and structure is 60 feet below the existing grade, requiring mass excavation of earth and rock requiring a designed shoring system and caisson foundations.  Prior to any excavation, extensive relocation of utilities (storm, sanitary, electrical, telecommunications and natural gas) was performed.   The above grade structure that housed the cooling towers was constructed of structural steel, with architecture metal panels/louvers/stone clad façade. 

The Building 11 system consisted of major mechanical piping (up to 42” diameter) and appurtenances.   The new chiller units and cooling towers were field erected under the subcontract with the chiller manufacturer.  Bell was responsible for coordinating the work activities, in conjunction with the chiller and cooling towers, such as the piping connections, electrical and the integrated controls system.   Upon completion of the system, installation and start-up, Bell assisted and performed commissioning of the facility.

Bell performed all the management requirements in accordance with the contract.  The project was completed in a timely manner, which included the extended time provided for the added extension.  This met the Owner’s objective, which included partial running of the new plant as further extensions were being completed.  One of the key components that resulted in a successful project was Bell’s self-performance of the major features of the work.  Bell self-performed all of the utility relocations, mass excavation for the building foundation, structural concrete work and the mechanical piping and equipment installation.   By self-performing key features of this project, Bell was able to assist in maintaining the schedule performance by achieving proper manpower.