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Projects | Dirksen Federal Building Keeps Its Cool

Dirksen Cropped


The Dirksen Federal Building in downtown Chicago, home to the Court of Appeals, as well as the U.S. District and Bankruptcy courts among others, was on the brink of losing its cool. One of the existing towers installed in 1991 needed to be replaced and tied to a newer one from 2004 to better fit the building’s expanding needs. Bailey Edward stepped in to perform an investigation documenting the existing system, identifying areas of distress, and developing a phased replacement plan that would allow the new tower to be in place and operational before the old one was removed.

Even with a well-laid plan, installing the new cooling tower was no easy task. Unlike a traditional cooling tower, Dirksen Federal Building’s 1991 unit was not technically at the top of the building—it is located in an area within the facility. To further complicate matters, the new unit was extremely heavy—even in pieces, only one helicopter service in the area had a vehicle strong enough to bring the equipment to the upper floors of the building for contractor to assemble. 

With the new tower delivered, Bailey Edward developed a plan to install the new cooling tower on the opposite end of the existing 2004 tower. By integrating the two towers into a common piping network, the system could be used for supplemental cooling on all floors. The towers are connected to a closed loop condenser water system that is winterized to operate year-round. To reduce the quantity of piping, our engineers went with an unconventional parallel pumping strategy which reduced project costs. The Bailey Edward team then engaged in testing and balancing efforts to ensure that the newly installed towers aligned with their original design intent.

While things may still get heated in the courtroom, the Dirksen Federal building can rest assured knowing that it’s just emotions running high and not the temperature!