Data Center HVAC Lift Case Study

Contributor:  Mike Maloni, Service Project Executive at F.E. Moran Mechanical Services
Writer:  Sarah Block, Marketing Director at The Moran Group


data center HVAC lift


When a major Chicago data center needed an HVAC change, they contacted F.E. Moran Mechanical Services and Dearborn Engineering to get them out of a tight situation.

Data Center Serving 9th Largest Financial District in the World

Serving one of the largest financial districts in the world, this Chicago data center is an integral part of Chicago business. With more than 183,000 square feet of secure and reliable data center space, they keep businesses running with high-density power configurations. When F.E. Moran Mechanical Services was approached to provide HVAC service for the data center, they were eager to begin and face the upcoming challenges head on.

Two Inches to Spare

This project included adding chillers and evaporative condensers that added up to 20,000 pounds. The equipment needed to be lifted onto the roof of a 7-story building on LaSalle Street, a bustling, compact area.

F.E. Moran Mechanical Services worked with Dearborn Engineering to safely coordinate and complete the lift. They rented the largest truck crane available that was 600 tons. The two groups had to work together to coordinate and maneuver this large piece of equipment between CTA stops and buildings - working in a very tight spot. With the huge crane and tight location, great care needed to be taken in every move they made.

Another issue that showed itself was the deteriorating conditions of Chicago sidewalks along with the data tunnels beneath the sidewalk. The 600 ton crane could cause the sidewalk to crumble beneath it. A solution needed to be found.

Carefully Choreographed Dance

On Friday, February 20, 2015, F.E. Moran Mechanical Services and Dearborn Engineering performed the set-up of the lift site. It was no easy task. They calculated a short swing radius, distance of counter weights to the nearby building, pick-points, and roof edge of the buildings. In the end, they had mere inches between the nearby building and the crane. There was no room for mistakes.

To resolve the crumbling sidewalk issue, Dearborn Engineering cut the sidewalk, tied shoring onto the foundation of the building, and placed two outriggers for support.

On Saturday, the lift was completed: over 100,000 pounds of equipment (with the heaviest piece = 20,000 pounds) was hauled onto the roof of the data center and brought into the new penthouse. It took the entire next day to remove the set-up for the lift

In the end, the coordination, meetings, and detailed planning allowed the lift to go off without a hitch. By the end of the day on Saturday, all HVAC equipment, structural steel, panels, and electrical equipment was safely inside the building. Service Project Executive Mike Maloni said, "This project was both fun and challenging. With careful planning and coordination with the City of Chicago, Coresite, HITT Contracting, Stephenson Crane & Dearborn Engineering, the crane lift went seamlessly. This difficult task allowed us to really exercise our skills. We're very proud of the results."

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