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Clark/McCarthy JV Tops Out LAX Central Utility Plant Project

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The new $438-million Central Utility Plant at Los Angeles International Airport was recently topped out and is currently on schedule to be completed by summer 2014.

Rendering courtesy of LAX
A rendering of the new Central Utility Plant at LAX
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The design-build project is being built by Clark/McCarthy, A Joint Venture. Gruen Associates of Los Angeles is the architect and Arup of Los Angeles is the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, structural and commissioning engineer. Additional project partners include Capital Engineering Consultants, Rancho Cordova, mechanical consultant; Greenform, Los Angeles, sustainability consultant; and PID Engineering, San Diego, cogeneration consultant.

According to the JV, in just four weeks, construction workers from Schuff Steel used a Manitowoc 999 Lattice-boom crawler crane with a reach of 140 ft to erect 1,400 tons of structural steel, creating the frame for the new plant. “An interesting aspect pertaining to the CUP structure is that it was designed as an essential facility with stringent seismic drift criteria to protect the facility during a major earthquake,” said Kevin Carpenter, design manager for Clark/McCarthy. “Furthermore, some of the cogeneration equipment that will be installed on upper floors, including the two combustion turbine generators that weigh in excess of 60 tons each, requires the steel frame to be extremely stout.”

The 70,000-sq-ft facility has a steel frame that weighs in excess of 1,400 tons, or 40 lbs per sq ft, about 30% higher than an Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) hospital in California, Carpenter said.

The new CUP is being built to replace the existing 50-year-old facility with a modern, state-of-the-art, computer-managed utility plant providing enhanced passenger comfort and reliability of utility service and safety within the newly renovated modernized terminals at LAX. The existing CUP will service the airport throughout construction. Upon project completion, the replacement will be brought on-line and the old CUP will be decommissioned and demolished.

Serving as general contractor for the project, Clark/McCarthy’s contract includes demolition of the existing 50-year-old CUP as well as construction of a new 64,000-sq-ft, steel-framed replacement CUP with a 20,000-ton cooling capacity. The project also entails the installation of associated equipment, such as a stand-by boiler, primary and secondary chilled water pumps, cooling towers, electrical systems and switchgear.

A new maintenance shop and offices and an above-grade thermal energy storage (TES) tank with capacity for 1.6 million gallons of water and 15,500 ton-hours of cooling is also being built. Other work includes: replacement of approximately 18 miles of pipe and duct bank that service the entire Central Terminal Area (CTA) with utility distribution, electrical and communications systems as well as reclaimed water, fire water and potable water systems; installation of several miles of new distribution piping throughout the CTA and beneath existing main entrance roadways throughout the airport; and an upgrade of pump rooms and air handling equipment in 21 different locations within all terminals, administrative buildings and the LAX Theme Building.

Systems and their components for the new CUP were designed and constructed to achieve LEED silver certification.

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