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Case Study: Historic mill converted to office space

3 min read
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Converting a structure built in 1872 for occupancy in the 21st century meant careful attention to historic details but equipping the building with the latest in HVAC systems.

Community leaders worked since 2012 to preserve and repurpose the 82,000 square-foot historic Eagle Mill in Kaukauna. The renovation preserves the historic integrity of the mill while repurposing the space for the Kaukauna Public Library, and leased office space. The entire second floor of the renovated mill is leased to Expera Specialty Solutions for their new headquarters and that’s where Hurckman Mechanical tackled installing 21st century HVAC in a structure built in 1872.

HVAC teams had to re-think typical pipe and duct installation as the historic building lacked infrastructure found in modern buildings. The building’s cobbled limestone façade, interior brick walls, exposed timber columns and ceiling joists are charming, but posed problems. Brick and stone walls were two feet thick in places and developers wanted the exposed brickwork visible in the building’s interior. Crews took care when drilling holes through the walls to accommodate pipes running to heating/cooling units on the roof. The spiderweb of pipes running from the roof to the floor were planned and coordinated to make the least impact on the historic structure. Exposed ductwork hung from the thick wooden beams, and anchors were carefully placed into the old material.

Normally ceilings or false ceilings would cover ductwork and piping, in this design all mechanical systems were visible to building occupants. Hruckman teams laid out a model of the network of ducts and piping on the floor before any studs were built, measured out precise locations with a laser, then started work. Teams were 30-feet off the floor running hangars down from the old wood beams, and then installing duct work.

According to pipefitter Pete Basten, it was a job where everything they did was on public view. “You can’t just slap the caulk on, and you had to make sure everything was straight and neat,” Basten said.

Hurckman teams installed a Mitsubishi HVAC System that performed both heating and cooling based on the season. Mitsubishi M-series systems systems meet or exceed the energy efficiency specifications of the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR® program.

Offices within the space were constructed with individual touchpad thermostat controls—equipment for 46 individual heating/cooling zones were located on plywood on top of the individual office spaces. The result is more uniform and efficient temperature control.

In-floor radiant heating was installed along the perimeter of the floor to work in coordination with the Mitsubishi system to reduce energy consumption and achieve energy targets. Crews estimate more than 8,000 rolls of piping were installed to ensure more even temperature zones.

To learn more about how Hurckman’s services can help your next project, please contact us.

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