Project Profile: 555 President Street, Baltimore
Scope of work: 24-story, luxury apartment building
BC&E Member involved: Hirsch Electric
As they prepared to wire 555 President Street, Hirsch Electric realized the project would constitute a race to the top.
The 24-story, luxury apartment building in the heart of Little Italy would be a 100 percent concrete structure.
“Concrete guys are known for how fast they can get a building standing up, so it was our challenge to keep up with them,” said Dominic Tapia, Project Manager at Hirsch Electric. “As concrete was poured for each level, we had a small window to get all our electrical inside the floors.”
To achieve that pace, Hirsch invested in new technology — a Trimble Total Station. Tapia meticulously identified every floor box, light fixture, wall switch and other electrical points, and Trimble programmed those into the system, which was an enormous undertaking for a high-rise building with about 20 apartments per floor.
“It was the most intense layout of my career and definitely the most time consuming,” said Tapia, who worked on the planning for nearly four months.
That effort, however, generated huge labor savings for field staff. Instead of manually measuring and calculating each installation point, crew members could simply walk each floor with a tablet that would automatically identify points.
As crews finished work on each floor, “you would see wires hanging out all over and initially you didn’t know if they were positioned to be within walls,” Tapia said. “But as the framing subcontractor started snapping lines and we started seeing our wires hit within the lines for a four-inch stud wall, our confidence got really high. The Trimble system worked really well. Our hit ratio was extremely high – in the high 90s.”
To further speed installation, Hirsch prefabricated wire and cable sets, packaged all electrical equipment for each apartment unit on individual pallets, then craned them into place along with cheat sheets detailing each unit’s installation.
“Prefabrication also saved us time in the field and made us quicker and more valuable as a subcontractor,” Tapia said.
Once Hirsch completed installation on the 24th floor, however, the team had to meet one last and unusual challenge. The design for 555 President Street included a signature electrical feature – an array of vertical lights that stretch up the face of the high rise. Those couldn’t be installed until all masonry, windows and other exterior finishes were complete.
“We partnered with the scaffolding contractor. As they brought the scaffolding down the building and did the final cleaning of the brick, we arranged to get on their lift and do the lighting installation,” Tapia said. “We typically don’t need to hang off the side of a building on a scaffold to install light fixtures, so this was a unique challenge. Fortunately, we had several guys who were comfortable on scaffolding and they did a beautiful job.”