Situated in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, the Sydell Group purchased the historic Bank of Italy building at Giannini Place with the hopes of bringing the booming success of its original NoMad New York City location to LA. The outcome is the NoMad Los Angeles (NoMad LA).
“Our bread and butter is to go into these primary markets and find buildings that are unique and architecturally significant,” said Ryan Bean, director of development, Sydell Group. “We’ve been successful at developing them.”
Built in the 1920s, the 14-story hotel features 241 guest rooms; original, gold-leaf, hand-painted ceilings above the former banking hall turned lobby; and several world-class dining venues. With lavish accommodations, the Sydell Group required top-of-the-line mechanical systems for the property. After consulting with the general contractor, R.D. Olson Construction Inc., and mechanical contractor, Talent Air, the choice was to go with Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating’s CITY MULTI® VRF systems.
Listed as a National Historic Landmark, there was a lot to consider in terms of heating and cooling. The HVAC subcontractor had to be careful not to alter the space too much.
“With the NoMad building, we couldn’t make a lot of fenestrations to the exterior,” said Jason Garry, senior project manager, Talent Air. “Using a VRF system eliminated the need for much economizer control.”
Mitsubishi Electric’s two-pipe system design was also ideal for minimal building disturbance.
“Other brands utilize a four-pipe system that’s constantly heating and cooling and requires so much more space than just the overhead ceiling,” said Bean. “Developing an existing building becomes much easier with VRF.”
In addition, the Sydell Group didn’t have room for a large HVAC system. CITY MULTI’s compact design was of particular benefit.
“Space constraints were a major factor for us,” explained Bean. “Many of the existing city properties we develop are built lot line to lot line. There’s no space to build a centralized plant that has cooling towers, boilers, and chillers. VRF was ideal for us because we can put units on the roof that have a small footprint. We were able to add a pool, rooftop bar, restrooms, and a restaurant; having revenue-producing outlets up there is a great benefit.”
While the Sydell Group was sold on VRF technology, Mitsubishi Electric’s support network sold them on the brand. It was a joint effort between Talent Air and R.D. Olson to select Mitsubishi Electric for the building.
“With a historical, adaptive rehab project, you have to have technicians that know what they’re doing,” said Joseph G. Cervantes, senior executive vice president of operations, R.D. Olson. “We selected Mitsubishi Electric because of the support we received through their sales representatives and company technicians. Talent Air is also a Diamond Commercial Contractor, which provided the building with a quality extended warranty.”
Mitsubishi Electric’s Diamond Commercial Contractors are authorized technicians specialized in the brand’s equipment design, installation, startup, and maintenance. Partnering with a Diamond Commercial Contractor ensures a 10-year compressor and parts warranty.
Ultimately, Talent Air installed R2-Series, Y-Series, and S-Series systems using ceiling-concealed ducted indoor units and multi-position ducted air handlers throughout the hotel and six ductless indoor units in their audio-visual rooms. The heating and cooling system is controlled through the AE-200A Centralized Controller.
The controller also integrates with Lutron, an energy management system that controls lighting and building climate. Installers were able to tie the AE-200A in with the front desk control system.
“We really appreciate the interoperability of the AE-200A to work with this system,” said Bean. “Lutron also connects with Oracle’s Opera, our property management system, and allows us to control room temperature individually. For example, when a guest checks out, their room temperature will automatically rise to 72-73°F and the lights will turn off, allowing us to save energy.”
Since NoMad LA’s doors officially opened in January 2018, the hotel has had success delivering a comfortable atmosphere for guests.
“Noise is a key factor in providing an elevated experience,” said Garry. “With the VRF system, there’s a smaller fan coil, and you can install it higher up in the ceiling compared to the conventional systems you normally see in hotels. The result is a very quiet HVAC system.”
The technology has also helped NoMad LA meet the CalGreen Building Code.
“Our compliance with CalGreen is a huge feat given this is a large, historic building — with the way they’re built, historic buildings typically have a harder time meeting these types of efficiency standards,” noted Bean.