Fed Banks on Security

Surrounded by park land, historic landmarks and dramatic views of downtown, the new Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Mo., is yet another sign of the region’s renaissance. When it came to providing the security and electrical systems for the project, the government knew it could bank on electrical contractor Mark One Electric Co. Inc., also of Kansas City, to get the job done right.

The project, when completed early in 2008, will consist of three structures: a 12-story office tower, a parking garage and the remove vehicle inspection facility (RVIF), and an elaborate security system. General contractor JE Dunn Construction, Kansas City, awarded the garage and RVIF to Mark One, while another electrical contractor, Broadway Electrical Construction Inc. (BECI), Shawnee Mission, Kan., won the contract on the main building. Mark One also won the specialty systems through a separate contract with Siemens.

Mark One Vice President Tony Privitera, with the assistance of project managers Don Willems and Richard Sheldrake, foremen Al Marney and Frank Bua, key Mark One field staff and local electricians, oversaw the installation of the electrical, fire alarm, security, cameras and computer cabling on their portions of the job.

Privitera is quick to point out the success of the project was dependent on close coordination with the other contractors on the project.

“The relationship between the GC and the subs was outstanding,” he said. “Adequate lay-down areas were at a premium. We had to work together to succeed.”

The Federal Reserve Bank expects big things. “It is my expectation that, upon its completion, we will be prepared to serve our nation, this great city of Kansas City and the other great cities and towns in the heart of America,” said Thomas M. Hoenig, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City at the building’s dedication.

Looks and function

Designed by executive architect Ellerbe Becket, who also served as the interior design architect, the project is the first Federal Reserve Bank head office designed and constructed after Sept. 11 and, therefore, subject to more stringent security requirements.

The buildings are located on a 16-acre site, which gives it a presence in the city. The bank is being housed in a limestone-clad tower consisting of 12 office floors above a two-story base. The base area contains its operation facilities.

The tower has 600,000 square feet with the operations area comprising another 280,000 square feet. In addition, there is a 925-space parking garage and a 22,000-square-foot receiving and warehousing facility.

When completed, the tower’s entry pavilion will feature a 3,000-square-foot exhibit space that will complement nearby attractions, such as the Liberty Memorial and Union Station. A new pedestrian pathway will link Main Street and Penn Valley Park.

This structure is not meant to be another Fort Knox, but there will be money stored in it. The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Mo., has a role in overseeing financial institutions in the 10th Federal Reserve District.

“The security system in the vault is something to behold,” said Kenneth C. Borden, chapter manager for the Kansas City National Electrical Contractors Association Chapter.

The numbers speak for the scope and impressiveness of the security applications. The Siemens fire alarm system, specified by project engineer Smith & Boucher Engineers, Olathe, Kan., has a total of 550 system points. Mark One installed each point. The Siemens security system had nearly 2,500 system points.

“We ran over 800,000 feet of cable for the security system alone,” said Mark One’s Don Willems. “That’s roughly 151 miles of cable.”

Flack + Kurtz of New York designed the low-voltage network consisting of Systimax Category 6 cabling. That network has more than 7,500 drops throughout the buildings. Again, Mark One installed the low-voltage network.

“We ran at least another million feet of cable for that,” Willems said. Add another 190 miles of cable pulling for that part of the job. That brings the total cable used in those two phases of the job to the equivalent of a run from Kansas City, Mo., to Oklahoma City, Okla.

Mark One pulled another 35,000 feet of cable, another seven miles, to connect all the of the vault devices to the system.

“There are 1.4 miles of cable tray throughout the building, with 1,800 feet of tray in one room alone,” said project manager Richard Sheldrake. “Plus another 60 miles of conduit for the system’s cabling.”

While the raw numbers get “oohs” and “aahs,” it is easy to forget that all the cable and conduits and devices had to be installed. The challenges of the job made it appealing to Mark One, as company president Rosana Privitera Biondo pointed out.

“The enormity of the installation, plus integrating all of the low-voltage systems, made the job quite interesting for us,” she said.

Not all of the security is inside the buildings.

“We installed a fence intrusion-detection system,” Willems said. That part of the job required two miles of excavation and backfill. Inside that trench was more cable—a little more than seven miles of fiber optic cabling.

Mark One project managers Steven King and Chuck Aylward, under a separate contract with Kansas City Power and Light, were responsible for constructing the electrical duct bank to the site.

“The underground posed some significant challenges,” Tony Privitera said. It had to be built along Main Street, one of Kansas City’s main thoroughfares. Trenching through rock on a busy street midday, while trying to minimize the effect on traffic, was no easy feat.

Electricians, specialized digging equipment and a carefully considered plan helped pave the way to success.

“The equipment we used allowed us to reduce the number of lane closures and to work more productively,” Privitera said.

HARLER, a frequent contributor to SECURITY + LIFE SAFETY SYSTEMS, is based in Strongsville, Ohio. He can be reached at 440.238.4556 or curt@curtharler.com.


About the Author

Curt Harler

Freelance Writer
Curt Harler, a frequent contributor to SECURITY + LIFE SAFETY SYSTEMS, is based in Strongsville, Ohio. He also can be reached at 440.238.4556.

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