Some (Dis)assembly Required: Cooling Tower Logistics

November 15, 2017

Replacing a 32-ton cooling tower situated at the top of a high-rise and in the middle of a bustling city like Manhattan presents the obvious challenges: Do we utilize a hoist? A crane? A helicopter? For an imposing building like 100 United Nations Plaza, the answer can be simple in theory, but complex in execution: small pieces.

100 UN Plaza, a 52-story building in Midtown East, opened in 1986. The original cooling tower was housed inside the peak at the top of the 52nd floor and was installed via crane at the time of construction. Pushing well past their usefulness, the bulk of the major building systems were over thirty years old.

The replacement of a critical building system, such as a cooling tower, is not an easy task, and the comfort of the residents must be taken into consideration. Construction can only commence once the weather has cooled significantly and it is vital that it is completed before the weather begins to warm. As a result, this leaves a short window of time to get the tower up and running.

HLZAE was hired by the Building’s Board of Owners to design and oversee construction of the new cooling tower. On assessment, we found that the most cost-effective solution was to replace the aging cooling tower. A team of six to ten workers chopped the old tower into pieces that were small enough to fit in the building’s only service elevator, making over one hundred trips to get all the pieces down.

Ordered in ‘knocked down’ (disassembled) condition, the new tower was then transported up in small pieces, conveyed in the building’s service elevator. However, it was discovered that some of the new cooling tower components were too large to be transported in the service elevator and could not be cut down in size. Our creative solution? The unwieldy pieces were secured on the very TOP of the elevator car and sent up to the 51st Floor. The doors on the 52nd floor then had to be opened to remove the pieces from the top of the elevator car. This process required precise coordination with the elevator maintenance company and specialty elevator personnel had to be on-site. Once the pieces finally made their way to the 52nd floor, they were hand carried up an additional two flights of stairs and to where the tower was assembled in-place.

At the end of this complex and arduous construction process, the thankful residents of 100 United Nations Plaza were delighted to have a brand new state-of-the-art cooling tower and a cool apartment, just in time to beat the summer heat!

Before Demolition

After Demolition

After Installation of New Tower

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