Local company completes FCC roof construction
|The roof upgrades allowed crews to install cooling units that will double cooling to FCC.
A local construction company recently completed work on the roof of the Feynman Computing Center, an important step in an ongoing project funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The approximately $540,000 FCC roof modification project set the stage for the center's $4.75 million cooling upgrades, which will more than double the amount of cooling available to computers in the building. It also gave a boost to Barrington-based Horcher Construction Co.
"In these tough economic times, it was good to get some work," said Horcher's senior project manager, Bill Misik. "We're doing better this year than last year, partly thanks to Fermilab."
Because the housing market has shrunk, many construction firms that traditionally build housing are putting in bids for commercial projects. Yet these, too, are few and far between, Misik said. Layoffs have left an abundance of office space available for those who need it, reducing the need for new buildings. Misik said that many Chicago-area contractors are looking for work as far away as St. Louis.
"It's a struggle for us and so many others," he said. "Basically, there's more competition for less work."
In April, Horcher Construction finished installing the infrastructure for a modern refrigeration system to replace the water cooling system put in place when FCC was constructed in the 1980s. The upgrades will make possible the construction of a high-availability data center on the third floor of FCC.
As an added bonus, the cooling system upgrade involved replacing the building's 20-year-old roof. The crew installed a steel platform to support the weight of the cooling units, a staircase and a safe walkout onto the roof for maintenance staff.
"It was a nice, indirect benefit of the cooling upgrades project," CD Facility Operations Department Head Adam Walters said. "It's good to have a fresh roof and know we're safe from the rain and snow."
-- Sara Reardon