The lobby ceiling boasts a Chuck Taylor sneaker chandelier
with hundreds of LED-illuminated Converse shoes.
For contractors, including MEC, the project came as a fast-track tenant fit-out. General contractor Shawmut Design and
Construction, Boston, needed the project completed for early
2015. Converse planned to have employees show up for work in
the spring of that year. MEC arrived on-site in September 2014.
When MEC started work, the building’s core and shell
were ready for wiring. One unique feature for the subcontractors was the building’s open space. The renovation was
designed to have an airy feeling, with office space divided by
cubicles. By design, ceilings were specified to either be absent
or exposed. For MEC, that meant the usual luxury of hiding
cable trays and cable wasn’t an option. In addition, the corporate office spaces required power drops and lighting for the
cubicles and offices.
Working without ceilings
“The biggest challenge I saw was that 75–80 percent of the
building had no physical ceiling,” said Ralph DeVito Jr., executive principal and group leader at RDK Engineers.
While ceiling coordination is important in any project, in
this case, everything that was done there would be on display.
“A lot of people don’t realize that taking out a ceiling can end
up costing more money,” DeVito said.
That comes from the added effort to coordinate the space,
how it is managed with subcontractors and how it will ultimately look. MEC used building information modeling (BIM)
to collaborate with the other contractors.
“As part of the project, we had the contractor build a mock-up so the customer could preapprove the layout,” DeVito said.
That meant MEC created a model in one portion of the
building for Converse staff to ensure the appearance would
meet their needs, including how power runs would appear.
DeVito said looking at a drawing is one thing, but in this
case, it was important for the customer to see the real thing.
The cable and duct work then had to be coordinated with
the sprinkler system.
Rubber Tracks recording studio
The building’s recording studio, Rubber Tracks, is a two-story, stand-alone space overlooking the Charles River.
Organizations and bands can borrow the space and the power
to record music.
MEC wired in a power transfer box, known as the “company
switch,” that acts as a power distribution center in the studio.
It enables the sound system and stage lighting.
On the roof, MEC installed the feed for lighting and electrical power so that bands could perform public concerts and
make recordings. MEC also installed the automatic transfer
switch for the generator.
The executive office space on the top floor includes
showrooms where athletes make appearances and shoes are
displayed for marketing purposes. The high ceilings required
MEC to use lifts to access the 16–18-foot level above the floor.
Michael McDonald, MEC president, said there were no injuries
during the project. The company held weekly safety meetings
to limit risks for the work on such installations.
MEC’s electricians also reworked the existing fire alarm
backbone for a new, state-of-the-art Simplex fire alarm system.
A wooden stairway that flows through the center of the
open space had to be accommodated. MEC ran the electrical
system around it. All circuitry, cable tray and lighting had to
be routed around the center core where the stairwell was to
be cut out later in the construction project, after the electrical
system was installed.
By the time the project was finished, MEC had installed
more than 3,200 lighting fixtures throughout the facility and a
Lutron lighting control system, which Lutron Electronics Corp.
Altogether, MEC ran more than 250,000 feet of cable, Law-
lor said. Despite the short time frame and challenges in the
open ceiling, he said it “flowed pretty well.”
The subcontractors had to coordinate their work in specific
areas, leaving space for those following up. If anyone had fallen
behind, the whole project could have been delayed. Fortunately,
that never happened.
At the project’s peak, MEC’s team consisted of 26 electricians led by Lawlor and foreman Dave McDonald.
More than 400 employees are now working in the Hoffman
Building since it opened in April 2015. The building has capacity for twice that.
“[The building] looks great,” DeVito said. “I think everyone
is extremely happy.”
S WEDBERG is a freelance writer based in western Washington.
She can be reached at
The Hoffman Building lobby features a Chuck Taylor sneaker
chandelier with hundreds of LED-enabled Converse shoes.
> PROFILE MCDONALD ELECTRICAL CORP.
Continued from page 76