Monroe College, in New York City's Bronx borough, needed to install an HVAC system in King Hall, a turn-of-the century brick building, while maintaining the building's aesthetic beauty. A high-velocity, miniduct HVAC system specifically designed for applications with strict space constraints provided the perfect solution.
Like many established colleges and universities, Monroe College in New York City's Bronx borough has an ongoing need to renovate and upgrade older and architecturally unique buildings. In the summer of 1996, college administrators were faced with a problem; they desperately needed air conditioning added to their administrative offices, but did not wish to ruin the aesthetics of the structure by dropping ceilings to install conventional A/C units and ducts.

A virtual oven

King Hall, a turn-of-the century brick building consisting of 15,000 sq ft spread over three floors, serves as the administrative and managerial nerve center of Monroe College. This grand edifice has at various times been used to house a rollerskating rink and the college's multipurpose building. King Hall is indeed beautiful, but the high temperatures of New York's often brutal summers rendered it a virtual oven during warmer months. Obviously, it was time to air condition King Hall, but how to do so without radically changing its inherent beauty?

John Hochreiner of Tesco Distributors, an HVAC wholesaler, knew he had a product that could solve the problem. He proposed installing the Unico System, manufactured by Unico, Inc. The system is a high-velocity, miniduct HVAC system specifically designed for applications with strict space constraints. It uses compact, modular air handlers, a 7-in. main trunk line, and 3-1/2-in. outer diameter flexible supply tubing, eliminating the need for traditional, "boxy" metal ducts. Unico System outlets consist of 5-in. outer dia and 2-in. inner dia circular plates that are available in paintable plastic or stainable wood so that they can be matched to blend in with any d?r.

Quiet a concern

Monroe College facility officials were intrigued by the system's space conservation, but were worried about the noise they felt would be inherent in a high-velocity system. Hochreiner pointed out that the Unico System's supply tubing includes sound absorbing materials in its insulation, making the system virtually silent.

Assured about the system's super-quiet air delivery, the college administrators hired Airdyne, Inc., a Bronx-based contractor, to install 11 Unico System five-ton air handlers in conjunction with York condensing units. The systems were also "sistered" to King Hall's existing basement boiler to provide additional heat. Because of its flexibility, the system was easily adapted to the boiler (which is the size of a small garage), thereby avoiding costly removal and remedial charges.

Said Hochreiner, "A lot of times, contractors look at these old buildings and throw up their hands. They give up and say that they can't do it. Not with the Unico System. Its ease of operation and miniducts make it perfect for these types of installations, particularly since we didn't want to compromise the building's architectural integrity."

"Unico System made sense for a number of reasons," he continued, "first, we were able to use the building's existing boiler in conjunction with the system to provide better heating during the colder seasons. Second, we were able to air condition the building without having to drop all of the ceilings to accommodate conventional duct systems. Finally, because this is an office environment, the quiet operation of the system made it a must." ES