In 2001, PFPC Inc., a leading provider of processing, technology and business solutions to the global investment industry and a member of the PNC Financial Services Group Inc., decided to expand its operations by adding a four-story, 116,000-square-foot worldwide headquarters building to its existing three-building office complex in Wilmington, Del. This expansion project was to be constructed on top of a primarily underground, four-story parking garage, adding some challenge to the project.

PNC Realty Service managed the project and chose Dick Corp., Pittsburgh, to manage construction. Request for Proposals (RFPs) for the electrical, security and voice/data/video (VDV) portions of the construction project were issued in the spring of 2001, and Tangent Cable Systems was invited to submit a bid.

“Based on our previous working relationships with PNC Realty Services and PFPC, we were on the prequalified list of electrical contractors that could bid on the project,” explained Lee Burkey, Tangent’s senior project manager.

Tangent Cable’s prior experience with PNC Realty Services included electrical, security and information technology projects at various branch and office facilities in several states, both retrofit and new construction. Tangent’s ability to provide electrical, security and VDV installations has made the company a single-source contractor for projects of these types. “It is our ability to provide quality installations for all aspects of electrical projects that has helped us develop our long-term relationship with PNC,” Burkey added.

Tangent responded to the RFP and submitted its sealed bid to Dick Corp. The company was subsequently awarded the contract based on its prequalification status, its bid and the fact that the company focuses its efforts on the financial, commercial and data center markets. “Our Delaware State Alarm License was another positive factor because it indicates to prospective customers that our employees have already passed background checks,” Burkey said. In today’s security conscious environment, a reliable and experienced work force is a value-added benefit that the Tangent can offer and being licensed as a low-voltage contractor is another plus.

Although this was Tangent’s first experience with Dick Corp., it had performed work on other projects at PFPC’s previous headquarters facility. It was, in fact, Tangent’s reputation and standing with PFPC that helped the company obtain the electrical, security and VDV contract. “It was also a valuable opportunity for us to develop a new, excellent relationship with another construction management firm,” Burkey observed. Previous work performed by Tangent at the PFPC headquarters included renovating and upgrading the VDV, electrical and security cabling and the fiber optic backbones. “As PFPC has continued to grow, it has had a constant demand for upgrades to its electrical, security, computer network and telecommunications systems,” Burkey said. In addition, the company also recently completed the installation of the voice/data server room cabling, cable tray systems, paging and intercom systems and the closed circuit television (CCTV) surveillance system at PFPC’s 261,000 square foot Valley Forge site.

State-of-the-art systems

Most of the design of the electrical, VDV and security systems for the project was performed by security vendors and architects and engineers. Tangent Cable was, however, responsible for the design of the intermediate distribution frame (IDF) cabinets, including the layout of the cable trays, the wall field terminations and the riser cabling. “The responsibility for the IDF design was given to Tangent because of our familiarity with the client’s equipment requirements and our knowledge of electrical and cabling codes and procedures,” Burkey explained.

The scope of work for the facility’s security-related systems included installing all of the metal conduit raceways and all of the cabling and devices for the facility’s emergency intercom, CCTV and card access systems, electronic turnstiles in the lobby, the remote loading dock operators and the stairwell security camera system. Additionally, Tangent was responsible for installing and terminating all of the building and security system control cabinets.

Before the concrete on the parking-level floors could be poured, Tangent had to install all of the required PVC conduits. The company also installed the facility’s access gates, security cameras and emergency call stations throughout the parking garage, as well as the required metal conduit raceways through inaccessible drywall ceilings in the office areas.

Another feature of the project was the security camera and intercom systems that Tangent installed on the loading dock which allow the security officers on duty to both view and talk with delivery personnel. Once the delivery is verified, the guard opens the loading door remotely from his or her station.

Other standard equipment included in the security installation were card readers, door contacts, electric door strikes and magnetic locks, panic bars on doors, request-to-exit sensors, intercom stations, interior and exterior cameras and control cabinets.

LEED credits earned

The electrical contract further gave Tangent the responsibility for installing general electrical systems for the tenant-occupied areas of the building, including all standard ceiling lighting, customized conference room and reception area lighting, all branch circuit wiring for computers, other office equipment and general purpose use, and the necessary 480V circuits to the 475 heating panels installed in the drop ceiling around the perimeter of the building’s interior. More than 50 lighting controls and dimmers were installed and integrated into the building automation system, along with the HVAC equipment controls. “The energy management systems installed throughout the facility helped PFPC earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Level rating credits for outstanding achievement in sustainable design and construction from the U.S. Green Building Council,” said Bill Lane, project manager.

The scope of the work for the telecommunications package included horizontal voice and data cabling, copper and fiber backbone cabling, server room cabling and fiber cabling that connected the system to the adjacent buildings. More than 340,000 feet of twin Category 6 cables, 26 data patch panels, and 3,100 pair of voice backbone cabling was installed to 975 workstations. Tangent also installed all the cabling for the CATV satellite system, the phone-activated paging system and the audio-video system.

Tangent began work on the $1.4 million project in July 2001 and completed its responsibilities in March 2003. An average of 16 electricians were on-site during those 20 months, with a peak work force of 30 people.

Challenges along the way

The fact that the building site was situated on bedrock complicated matters immensely. Although blasting would have been the quickest way to clear the site to accommodate the underground parking facilities and the building construction, it was impossible because of the close proximity to existing buildings. “There was just too great a risk of structural damage to the rest of the complex,” recalled Burkey. Pneumatic drilling and rock removal put the project behind schedule from the onset. “The only way to overcome the scheduling challenges was to hire more manpower,” he added.

The second major challenge was also scheduling. “The events of Sept. 11 required that a major redesign of the security package be done, although work had already begun on those systems,” said Lane. Additions included security cameras and access control devices at the entrances of the building, the parking area, the lobby and the stairwells. The extra devices affected not only the planned locations of the security equipment, but also the hardware and cable types needed, the quantity of cable and the size and number of conduits and control cabinets. “More units, which were also more expensive, were required to increase the areas of protection as well as foster employee safety,” Lane added. Tangent’s project managers and supervisors worked closely with the architects and security vendors to review the plans, initiate the design changes and make field verifications of their feasibility.

Finally, since the entire interior space has a raised floor system, all the trades on site had to work closely with each other to ensure the project’s success. “For instance, most of cabling that was pulled under the raised floor was installed in a basket tray, which could not be done until the floor was complete. First, though, all conduit work in the ceilings needed to be finished before the floor was installed. After the cabling was pulled, we needed to wait until walls and panels were installed before the cables could be fished through the walls,” explained Burkey. To ensure a smooth operation, Tangent project managers held weekly meetings with representatives from the other trades to discuss progress and the best ways to complete each phase of construction.

Tangent performed the work on all three segments of the electrical installation (traditional, security and VDV), so coordination and scheduling was simplified and overall costs were reduced. “Because the work was performed by one contractor, all of the processes involved were streamlined, enabling us to provide the customer with the most cost-effective, high quality project possible,” Burkey concluded.

BREMER, a freelance writer based in Solomons, Md., contributes frequently to ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR. She can be reached at 410.394.6966 or darbremer@comcast.net.