Case Study – York College of Pennsylvania

York College of Pennsylvania
Willman Business Center

Project Synopsis

Formerly known as simply the “BA Building,” the newly renovated and greatly expanded Willman Business Center is one of the most prominent buildings at York College of Pennsylvania. In fact, the five-story, 32,297 square foot addition makes it the tallest building on campus. The project also encompassed 21,937 square feet of renovated spaces. Completed in time for the 2013 Fall semester, the updated facility provides nine new “smart” classrooms with seating for 40, a 150-seat lecture hall, training labs for students enrolled in finance and operations management courses and dining and event space for up to 300 people.

Technology Integration

The new Willman Business Center, constructed to facilitate the consolidation and expansion of the academic business program, provides flexible teaching spaces and collaborative research areas within a technology-rich, corporate atmosphere. The corporate design aesthetic is established immediately upon entering the two-story lobby space. A live NASDAQ-sponsored ticker and four television screens display current financial news and information. The screens show market trends and allow students to compare stock values, monitor the markets, and compare commodities. The televisions can also be synced to Apple technologies such as iPads or iPhones.

Each seat in the new NASDAQ training lab has a desktop computer outfitted with software for trading programs and stock portfolios so students can experience hands-on simulations. The computers also have MorningStar software, popular for business management. Smart boards are located in every classroom in the building. Yorkview Hall, the fifth floor multi-purpose space, incorporates many of the same technology features as the classrooms.

Campus Gateway

Based on its prominent location on campus, the existing building was renovated and expanded as an addition to the campus quad. In lieu of relocating to an alternate site, the building configuration and pedestrian walkways create a welcoming gesture from multiple directions while maintaining density at the center of campus. The business center blends contemporary materials with the existing campus vernacular of natural brick, metal roofs, and simple forms. As the building reaches towards the city and sky, it becomes lighter with steel and glass construction, evoking a corporate surrounding. The building is capped by Yorkview Hall which has become a sought-after space for dining and other events. The butterfly roof floats over a glass-enclosed space opening to terraces with panoramic views of the city of York. The design result is a collaborative academic environment which fosters the development of young business professionals.

Behind the Scenes – Systems Solutions

The adjacent Appell Life Sciences Building’s hot and chilled water plant was expanded with a new chiller, tower, and pumps to serve an all new HVAC system in the Willman Business Center.  The new system consists of four air handlers (constant volume and variable-air-volume), fan coil units, and hot water radiant panels located in the fifth floor multipurpose room.  The radiant panels also serve as a light shelf in the glass-enclosed multipurpose room. A Metasys Building Management System integrates the control of five buildings and utility plants into the existing campus system.

The campus-wide main data center, located in the Willman Business Center, remained in operation during construction, with standard and emergency power. The main data center’s HVAC system comprises two 10-ton downflow computer room units with an economizer.  An expansion to the campus primary distribution system with a new switchgear lineup was necessary to accommodate the updated and expanded building.  The existing satellite data center was expanded with redundant equipment to back up the main data center while the fiber optic cabling was relocated and expanded for communication to the satellite data center and other buildings.  A raised floor and stock “Market” wall were incorporated into the NASDAQ lab.

Construction While the College was Fully Operational

For the construction team, the site represented the biggest challenge for the 15-month project. Located in the heart of the academic quad, the site was bordered by occupied buildings on three sides limiting access to the building.  The new building footprint combined with the construction layback area left only a four-foot buffer between the construction site and surrounding buildings.  Student traffic passed within 100 feet of the building footprint, where at times cranes were working six stories overhead. To safely facilitate uninterrupted student and staff activities, a fenced walking path was created around the jobsite and site supervisors remained diligent about implementing and enforcing pedestrian safety measures. Daily conversations between the construction team and York College were critical to coordinate all work and campus activities.

Another challenge was the drilling of 80-foot micropiles in the basement of the existing building. That same basement was home to the main data hub for the campus, and at times drilling occurred within ten feet of the data room.  Despite the close quarters, the data center was never taken off-line for an unscheduled reason.  Two scheduled campus-wide outages were carefully coordinated with the college to minimize the impact to campus activities.  There were no un-planned power or data outages during the construction process.

Building Management System Integration

Johnson Controls supported the design team by integrating the control of the buildings and utility plant by incorporating technology into the existing campus wide Metasys building management system.  York College was a pioneer to install magnetic bearing chillers in the Appell Life Sciences Building, which was expanded during the Willman Business Center project with a second magnetic bearing chiller. This provided integration for the HVAC systems with Appell Life Sciences, Campbell Hall, Naylor Ecological Sciences Center, Schmidt Library and the Willman Business Center.

Kathleen Goff, Director of Strategic Initiatives, RLPS Architects.

RLPS Architects has more than 60 years of experience planning and designing campus spaces. The firm provides master planning, architecture and interior design services to support a wide range of new construction, renovations or interior update projects.

JDB Engineering has been providing innovative, sustainable design since 1981. The firm’s practice has always been geared toward developing creative, energy-efficient solutions that look into the life cycle costs of a given system or product.

Kinsley Construction, founded in 1963, is a family-owned business that has evolved into one of the largest full-service construction management firms in the mid-Atlantic region. The present day-to-day activities are managed by second generation family executives and personnel who “grew up” in the business. Bob Kinsley, founder and CEO, is still very active in the company.

Johnson Controls is a global diversified technology and industrial leader serving customers in more than 150 countries. Johnson Controls delivers products, services and solutions that increase energy efficiency and lower operating costs in buildings for more than one million customers.