University VW/Audi wins ABC Electrical & Communication Award

ABC Awards • Electrical & Communications

University VW/Audi — Freeway Motors SME Inc. of Seattle
General contractor: Sierra Construction Co.
Architect: Gordon Fleener Architects
Engineer: Travis Fitzmaurice
Owner: Freeway Properties LLC
ABC members: Evergreen Concrete Cutting; Safety Matters; Tradesmen International

Freeway Properties hired SME Inc. of Seattle to install a new electrical system in its existing three story, 173,000-square-foot building in the University District.

The building’s first floor houses an automobile showroom and three state-of-the-art service bays, with 82,000 square feet of parking garage on the upper two levels for sales inventory and customer service.

Work involved installation of a 600-amp, 480-volt electrical service with power connections to specialized auto service bay equipment and LED lighting in the showroom, service bay and offices. Crews also installed lighting and exhaust fans on both parking garage levels, specialty display lighting, controls, a fire alarm system, and conduits for security, voice and data communications.

SME didn’t get final plans until 12 months into the 15-month project and had to address budget concerns by the owner.

Because the building is concrete and steel, which is difficult to penetrate for electrical systems, SME chose to install electrical conduits, boxes and sleeves.

Budget concerns allowed SME to value engineer many aspects of the installation: changing service feeders from copper to aluminum and panel board feeders to aluminum MC cable; re-examining exhaust fan and damper requirements and reducing the number of dedicated circuits by 75 percent; and recommending lighting controls that were best suited for each area, avoiding redundancy and the corresponding expense.

To save time and money, SME used its fabrication shop to install power whips and lamps in 181 parking garage fixtures and 103 recessed fixtures. Fixtures were towed up the building’s helix ramp to work areas within the garage on a special trailer built by one of the shop foremen.

SME fabricators built 56 assemblies, including the power pack and sensors for the parking garage, and had stainless steel work counters delivered to the shop where they installed 120- and 280-volt equipment receptacles and delivered them to the jobsite in time to meet the final inspection.

There were no time loss or medical incidents during the 8,245 hours worked.


Benjamin Benschneider


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