Along the shores of Biscayne Bay in South Florida is the latest in luxurious living at a three tower complex known as Park Grove.
Located in the Coconut Grove neighborhood, these new towers bring modern architecture to a historical section of the city. Those fortunate enough to call Park Grove home will no doubt enjoy the breathtaking views and conveniences of this development, made up of One Park Grove, Two Park Grove, and the Club tower, totaling 297 residential suites.
Each high rise has 22 stories with floor-to-ceiling windows offering grand views of the ocean and Miami’s skyline. Amenities supporting these towers ensure residents never have to go far for fine dining, banking, or an afternoon dip in the pool.
The newly built Coconut Grove Bank adds to the convenience of living in the complex. In fact, construction was phased so that the bank’s operations were moved to the new building before the old one was demolished.
The three towers are connected with a common podium structure that houses two levels of retail space, the bank, a large restaurant, and parking.
Needless to say, expectations are high for buyers who invest millions for a suite. The experience of living in a coastal paradise won’t be complete without the systems to support it.
A team effort
Bringing together the right team of professionals was the first step. The engineers from Steven Feller P.E. LLC had already established themselves in the residential condo market, providing services for several high-profile buildings in Florida. These included the Icon Las Olas, the tallest building in Fort Lauderdale, as well as several beachfront properties in Miami.
When it came to designing the cooling tower system, Steven Feller sought assistance from Integrated Cooling Solutions LLC, which provided input on technical aspects of the equipment. This helped solve their design challenges upfront to allow a smoother installation during construction.
For the hands-on part of this project, Nagelbush Mechanical Inc. was the contractor of choice, boasting a portfolio containing multiple condominium complexes in Miami. Nagelbush is a member of the Mechanical Contractors Association of South Florida (MCASF), affiliated with the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA), further contributing to its reputation as a leading mechanical systems installer.
Meeting (and beating) expectations
Residents purchasing condos in this building expect ample cooling to keep Miami’s heat and humidity at bay. Building managers expect a system that minimizes energy consumption using reliable equipment they can count on.
Maximizing tenant space is a priority for real estate developers. Yet, for water-sourced heat pump systems installed at Park Grove, cooling towers are some of the largest pieces of equipment in the mechanical mix. Added to this issue was the need to keep these buildings streamlined for visual appeal yet without compromising performance.
“In this case, the challenge was definitely the footprint and getting the right air capacity into the cooling tower space,” said David Fernandez, P.E., LEED-AP, and CEO of Doral, Florida-based Integrated Cooling Solutions.
The bank had its own set of challenges for the cooling system due to its location in the first level podium area of the complex. Cooling towers had to be installed inside a mechanical room while meeting code and airflow requirements.
Andrew Sanek, project manager for Nagelbush, described the unique challenge faced by the bank.
“The way Park Grove is built, the podium area is a two-story feature,” he said. “The whole thing is constructed with landscaping, trees, and pools that are actually located over the bank. So the bank technically has no roof. Its roof is an interstitial floor below the pool deck. And because the bank didn’t really have a roof, we had to make sure we designed it properly so that adequate air could come in to supply the cooling towers with what they needed.”
Keeping things ‘chill’
Cooling plant equipment for towers one and two are similarly sized at 2,000 and 2,400 ton, respectively, while tower three (the Club Tower) is a smaller 1,440 ton. Each of these buildings is served by a two-cell EVAPCO cooling tower: Model USS-212-528 for One Park Grove, USS-212-4N28 for Two Park Grove, and USS-29-924 for the Club Residences.
“This is a typical type of system for condos in Florida,” Fernandez said. “The cooling towers serve water-source heat pumps across the heat exchangers. Each cooling tower is paired with a set of pumps and then a heat exchanger to isolate the loop, eliminating the risk of mineralized scale in the building’s distribution piping. The heat pumps are also on an isolated loop.”
The cooling towers serve more than just the connected heat pump system.
“For fresh air to the building, three Petra rooftop units provide 100% outside air, using condenser water for their DX cooling systems,” said Sanek. “Towers one and two each have two 8,000-cfm rooftop units, while tower three has one 21,000-cfm unit because of the larger corridor area in that tower.”
The Coconut Grove Bank has a fully redundant system with two EVAPCO LSTE-4312-s cooling towers providing a total of 300 ton.
“The bank wanted complete redundancy, so they have double the equipment in order to achieve 100 percent backup,” said Sanek.
Towers take Hurricane Irma’s Cat4 punch in stride
The EVAPCO units offered several advantages to this application. One was the material used. “The units were constructed using stainless steel, which is popular for good reason in South Florida, where salty air can be quite corrosive,” said Fernandez. “EVAPCO’s wind pressure tolerances were also important because of the risk of hurricanes.”
As proof, the units stood strong through Hurricane Irma’s category four devastation in September 2017.
Overcoming heat rejection challenges
Tower dimensions for the required capacities were critical because of the tight spacing available. “The footprint and the layout presented a challenge,” said Fernandez. “We had to get creative with how these units were arranged. Fortunately, the EVAPCO units are modular and can be oriented for the piping to work.”
Having sufficient airflow around a cooling tower is fundamental to its performance, which is why most cooling towers are located on open rooftops. For the folks at Park Grove, however, cooling towers just wouldn’t match the building’s appearance.
But hiding a cooling tower on the rooftop of a 22-story building isn’t easy.
“We put these units in a recessed area of the roof with three walls, so only one side was available for airflow,” said Sanek. “The parapet walls are 10 feet high around all the rooftop equipment to hide it. We had one side that was basically all louvers to allow airflow to the cooling towers.”
Airflow issues also meant that the units had to be raised 5 feet, so that, in the end, it spanned three floor heights from the 21st floor up to the rooftop level of the towers.
Of course, these cooling towers don’t work in isolation. Each one is served by two pumps: One for each cell. Patterson pumps were installed: 1,250-gpm pumps for tower one, 1,500-gpm pumps for tower two, and 900-gpm pumps serving the cooling towers for tower three.
Separating the cooling towers from the closed-loop condenser systems is a plate-and-frame heat exchanger for each tower. Integrated Cooling Solutions provided the Kelvion stainless steel heat exchangers with flanged connections. System pumps were sized at 1,100 gpm for tower one, 1,300 gpm for tower two and 700 gpm for tower three, all Patterson.
The tower condenser water distribution was taken off a main header in the mechanical room. Sanek described the piping for the building’s cooling system.
“On tower two, it goes from 14-inch headers down to 1 ¼-inch branches to the heat pumps. There are eight risers serving the residential suites and one 6-inch express riser serving the spa and common area. The unit risers range from 2- to 4-inch pipes.”
Controls for the cooling towers, however, are very simple.
“The cooling tower controls are basically integrated for system monitoring while the suite controls are based on comfort set points,” said Sanek.
Park Grove conveniences
The bank installation was even more challenging without a rooftop to install equipment.
“At the bank, we used indoor cooling towers,” said Sanek. “They’re ducted to the outside with sound attenuators to reduce noise and keep it all contained because there was no roof.”
Intake air comes from below and is exhausted through sidewall louvers.
“The bank’s mechanical space is located above the parking garage,” explained Sanek. “The garage has one open side so fresh air can get in. An opening in the mechanical room floor allows air to enter for the cooling towers. The side of the mechanical room has 50% free air exhaust louvers with a plenum and drain pan on the back.”
An EVAPCO cooling tower was also used for the new restaurant, which sits in tower three’s lobby.
“The cooling tower for the restaurant is the same as the bank’s,” said Sanek. “These were also ducted using sound attenuators.”
Keeping it upscale
Anyone occupying real estate at Park Grove towers has access to spaces served by reliable equipment. Sanek painted a clear picture of his experience with EVAPCO when he said, “they are very easy to work with, and the design team gave excellent support to the engineers. So most issues were already taken care of before installation. They’ve also been very quick to respond to questions, and their engineers were very helpful, even making themselves available for meetings.”
“Today, Park Grove is one of the trendier places overlooking Biscayne Bay,” said Fernandez. “Even though it’s well established, the neighborhood is now enjoying quite a renaissance.”
Thermal comfort plays a large role in perceptions about luxury. Reputation means everything on a project like this, and there can be no compromise on quality. With the right equipment in place, rarely if ever to be seen by the residents of Park Grove, their investment in the luxury they see is amply supported by the luxury they can feel.