Chiller Plant & Combined Utility Plant

Chiller Plant & Combined Utility Plant

Location: Chicago

Client: University of Chicago

Completion Date: 2007

Burns & McDonnell designed two architecturally significant utility plants for the University of Chicago to accommodate 25-year campus growth. Located on separate sites, the energy-efficient plants — the three-story, 40,000-square-foot West Plant and two-story, 24,000-square-foot South Plant — are constructed of stainless steel and glass with their inner workings fully visible to passersby. These plants supply steam, chilled water and compressed air to two hospitals, several research buildings and other campus buildings. Both facilities house cooling towers on the roof, while walkable utility tunnels increase reliability and ease of maintenance.

This project involves the design of two new utility plants for the University of Chicago on separate sites. The plants supply steam, chilled water and compressed air to two hospitals, several research buildings and other campus buildings.

The West Campus Combined Utility Plant includes several miles of direct-buried piping and walkable steam piping tunnels throughout the campus. All utility services are metered to monitor and improve efficiency. The plants will accommodate 25-year projected campus growth.

The West Plant project includes the construction of a new combined utility plant to produce and deliver central chilled water, steam and compressed air. The plant is a three-story structure, approximately 40,000 square feet, with cooling towers on the roof. The total chilled water capacity of 12,500 tons will be achieved by operating five 2,500-ton chillers in a constant primary and variable volume secondary chilled water loop. The plant will also house two 225,000 pounds per hour steam boilers. Walkable utility tunnels will be utilized to increase reliability and ease of maintenance. The underground portion of the design required extensive OUC permitting and coordination with the City of Chicago and public utility companies.

The South Plant project includes the construction of a new central chilled water plant. The plant is a two-story structure, approximately 24,000 square feet, with cooling towers on the roof. The total chilled water capacity of 10,500 tons will be achieved by operating five 2,100-ton chillers in a constant primary and variable volume secondary chilled water loop.

  • Very fast design schedule
  • Facility aesthetics were important
  • Architectural concept to “Celebrate the Utilities” with transparent buildings
  • Vertical construction due to limited space availability on West Campus site
  • Reliability and redundancy critical due to hospital requirements