In June 2015, RTM began a project providing MEP services for a large-scale renovation of the University of Illinois at Chicago Library of the Health Sciences. The library also serves as a regional library in the National Network of Libraries of Medicine. This is the first major remodeling since the building’s completion in 1972.
RTM joined RATIO Architects as part of an A/E design team to modernize and improve the library’s existing space to meet the university’s needs. The library’s renovation focused on repurposing the first floor and providing:
- 33 percent more user space
- 12 open study rooms with individual and group workstations
- A reading room
- An imaging studio with a 70-inch flat screen and interactive display
- A 1,300-square-foot café
- A lobby display wall
RTM is a full-service MEP firm with 35 years of experience working on diverse projects, fulfilling requirements for both private and public sectors.
For the UIC Library of the Health Sciences renovation, RTM provided plumbing and fire protection services to support bathroom renovations on the first floor, the addition of the café, as well as upgrading fire protection and sprinkler systems to the basement, second and third floors. RTM also retrofitted the mechanical room to accommodate system upgrades without increasing the building’s footprint.
Since the library hadn’t been updated in decades, it was due for a variety of upgrades to modernize the building. It also needed improvements to better serve and safeguard its staff, patrons and materials. The project’s scope and the building’s age presented a number of obstacles.
The most significant challenge was integrating existing and new fire protection systems within the structure:
- A new sprinkler system was required to protect the entire building; the old system covered only the basement and had three pre-action zones.
- An integrated fire protection system needed new equipment that the existing mechanical room couldn’t accommodate – including a new fire pump and sprinkler piping for the test header and a commercial pre-action valve cabinet.
- The fire codes for educational facilities are particularly rigorous and complex, requiring RTM to work closely with state regulators and the office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal to meet Illinois fire code standards.
Strategy & Solutions
On every project, RTM conducts multiple site visits to evaluate the scope of work and develop a detailed plan. The site visits for the UIC Library of the Health Sciences renovation allowed RTM to offer a clear analysis of existing ductwork and piping. During this evaluation process, RTM determined that a full pre-action fire protection system would exceed the project budget.
RTM’s team of engineers collaborated with the client and found a cost-saving solution that would still meet the project’s goals:
- RTM installed a wet pipe fire sprinkler system, along with three more pre-action zones, bringing the total number to six. The extra zones were designed to protect the library’s special collection areas.
- To make room for necessary new equipment, RTM removed domestic system booster pumps to install the new fire pump in the mechanical room. New booster pumps were installed on an existing concrete pad in the basement, and RTM found routing in the ceiling of the basement so the new fire pump test header could discharge to grade and meet code.
From concept development to system design and installation, RTM’s team of engineers leveraged their experience to complete the Library of the Health Sciences project on time and within budget, offering long-term value for the client like Aubio.
Learn more about what RTM’s MEP services have to offer.
The renovation of the University of Illinois at Chicago Library of the Health Sciences was recently featured in Plumbing Engineer as a feature article. To read the full article, click here.