The Federal Building in Lowell, MA, is one of the various capital improvement projects that Gienapp Design has been performing for Middlesex Community College. One of the projects called for the investigation of an on-going water infiltration problem.
It was discovered that during a renovation of the building in 2001, the through-wall flashing at the roof had been compromised. This allowed water to penetrate the masonry and continue underneath the roof membrane into the roof insulation, ceilings, and walls below. Over the years, the water infiltration has caused severe damage to both the interior and exterior of the building. Most significantly, over several seasons the exterior masonry walls suffered due to freezing and thawing of the internal moisture. This resulted in damaged brick and crumbling mortar.
The devised remedy was a system designed to make the building, once again, weather tight and to replace the damaged materials on the interior and exterior.
Gienapp Design also designed an HVAC upgrade in the building’s main space, the College’s Lowell Campus Library. Originally designed in 2000, the air conditioning was not meeting the demand of the space. The library sees a large increase of users at the ends of the semesters in December and May. During the rest of the year, the Library has low to moderate use, since most of the Library is surrounded by classrooms, offices, and assembly areas, there is little heat gain/loss through exterior walls. Most of the heat comes from students and computers.
The Federal Building space was designed to be a significant space on campus. Consequently, it was important that any mechanical upgrades and their associated work blend into the aesthetics.
After investigating the condition, it was determined to address the problems through the addition of several units in the main space and the reading areas. In order to reduce the appearance of the units in the main space, soffits were added bridging existing recessed spaces between beams. Additional soffits were utilized to mask and hide the units and duct work in the reading areas.