Power Move at NMC

In the spring of 2018, Traverse City’s Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) began work on its largest project in more than a decade. The project will take NMC’s dated West Hall building—originally built in 1965—and transform it into the home of the community college’s state-of-the-art Innovation Center. Once completed, the Innovation Center will house a new library, as well as conference rooms, classrooms, and student workspaces. NMC also intends to perform technology upgrades throughout. All told, the project will renovate 13,000 square feet of existing space while also adding 25,000 square feet of new space.

NMC is aiming for a fall 2019 completion date for the new Innovation Center. Before the college could get started on the renovations and new construction work, though, it needed to demolish much of the existing West Hall building. And before NMC could move forward on demolition, it needed to solve another problem: moving one of the campus’s primary distribution power systems, which previously ran right through West Hall. Windemuller was charged with the task of installing a new primary distribution system elsewhere, so that NMC could demolish West Hall without knocking out the power.

The Challenge

Windemuller had a leg up with this project, in that we had played a role in designing it originally. Traverse City’s Nealis Engineering was hired to design the new distribution system, and Windemuller worked closely with Nealis throughout the design process. When the project went out for bid, we landed the contract. Our pre-existing knowledge of the design meant that we were able to execute the work very smoothly.

The big challenge on this project was coordinating scheduling changes when some of the equipment necessary to complete the job did not arrive on time. NMC had decided to purchase the transformers and switches for the job themselves, taking advantage of tax exemptions to save money. Unfortunately, the transformer for the project was not delivered until after Labor Day. In our initial timeline, we had intended to finish work before Labor Day, to avoid conflicts with students and classes.

The Solution

Going past our initial Labor Day deadline meant we no longer had free reign over the schedule. Instead, we had to arrange power shutdowns with the college so that we could get in to install the new system. These shutdowns largely fell on Saturdays and Sundays, when classes weren’t in session. Our team members were good sports about having to do weekend work and were able to complete the project with minimal impact on NMC’s student population.

With worries about the primary power distribution system out of the way, NMC moved forward with demolition on West Hall in October. Now, the college has set its sights on bringing the new Innovation Center vision to life.

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