The Hilton Americas-Houston, situated in the heart of downtown Houston, is the city’s largest hotel, spanning 24 stories and 1.8 million sq ft. Specialized couplings helped the contractors who erected the building meet tight time and space constraints while installing the HVAC and plumbing systems.
When the Houston Convention Center management team wanted to enhance its venue by adding a 1,200-room hotel with first-class accommodations, state-of-the-art meeting space, and dining and recreational facilities, they demanded unparalleled quality from their vendors and their products. And, with an accelerated schedule that required building and design to be completed before Super Bowl XXXVIII, construction delays were simply not acceptable.

The Hilton Americas-Houston, situated in the heart of downtown Houston, is the city's largest hotel, spanning 24 stories and 1.8 million sq ft. Connected to the George R. Brown Convention Center by a double-deck skywalk, the structure required a fast, economical, and reliable piping system.

‘Houston, We Have A Challenge'

The building's HVAC system consists of four Trane chillers for a total of 4,500 tons, seven Marley cooling towers, 100 AHUs (provided by Webco and Airzone), three steam boilers, two hot water heaters, and 1,235 Nailor vertical fancoil units in the guestrooms. Mike Bradby, project manager for the MLN Company, the hotel's mechanical contractor, said that in addition to schedule and space constraints this job was also tough because of all the different HVAC applications involved. "This job had everything it could have in terms of HVAC, so it was a challenge to get it all into one building and make it work."

Selected as the single source for a complete system of mechanical pipe-joining products, Victaulic helped the mechanical contractor meet the project's stringent deadlines while offering the hotel significant piping system benefits.

The Victaulic Construction Piping Services team worked closely with the engineering firm I.A. Naman Associates, MLN, and plumbing contractor Way Engineering Ltd. - all based in Houston - to supply a full breadth of services that provided onsite efficiency for the HVAC, plumbing, and fire protection systems. In addition, the Construction Piping Services group provided a complete project management package, including bills of material and detailed cut sheets for pipe fabrication, for the mechanical room, boiler room, and cooling towers.

"There's about two million square feet, so there's a lot of really long runs of pipe, risers, offsets, and other challenges, and Victaulic really saved a lot of welding time. In the plant and the boiler room, they also really helped with the detailing and laying it all out," Bradby added.

Many Demands

Victaulic Style 07 Zero-Flex® rigid couplings and Style 77 standard flexible couplings were specified for the HVAC (chilled and heating water) system. With an angle-pad, the Zero-Flex couplings provided rigidity for valve connections to machinery rooms and distribution piping while reducing the number of components handled during assembly.

The standard flexible couplings - designed with cross-ribbed construction - provided a stronger component for pressure piping systems. Series 709 grooved-end valves offered low torque operation and ease of installation compared to multibolt, lug-type, or flanged valves. Additionally, Vic-Strainers were installed on the pumps to make maintenance faster and easier.

The plumbing system (hot and cold domestic water) required Victaulic Series 608 copper connection butterfly valves that provide a bubble-tight shut-off to 300 psi. The grooved-end valves quickly and easily joined to the piping system. The system also required Style 606 couplings to join the copper tubing rather than the traditional soldering or brazing used to join copper systems.

The domestic cooling system presented a different type of challenge. Since the lines were stainless steel, traditional welding would have added calendar days to the piping installation. To keep the project timeline on track, Victaulic stainless steel grooved couplings, fittings, and valves were installed on the domestic waterlines.

For the fire protection system, Style 005 FireLock rigid couplings with the Vic-Plus gasket system were used. The patented angle-pad provided rigidity for valve connections, fire mains, and long straight runs.

In Time For The Kick Off

"Victaulic played a major role in coordinating product and materials for this project," director of property operations Tamas Sebestyen said. "To accommodate our tight time frame, it was critical for materials to be onsite and readily available for the contractors as scheduled.

"Victaulic helped our contractors tremendously by organizing product deliveries and supplying systems that are easy to install, which significantly reduced jobsite labor hours. And, by meeting project requirements on schedule and on time, there was adequate time to test the performance of the systems and ensure effectiveness. ES