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    2019 HVAC Design/Build Awards: Transit Hub Upgrade Supports DC Fleet Operation

    Oct. 3, 2019
    Shapiro & Duncan designed mechanical and plumbing systems for its first large-scale industrial project.

    The  Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Andrews Federal Center Bus Garage serves as a major hub for WMATA’s heavy bus operations in the Washington, D.C. region, including the District of Columbia and its Maryland and Virginia suburbs. The garage has more than 100 bays for fueling, repairing and even painting buses. The facility also provides ample office space for WMATA employees.   

    At the time of the contract signing, the Andrews Federal Center Bus Garage was Shapiro & Duncan’s largest Design/Build project, originally valued at roughly $21 million. Making this job even more unique is the fact that it is not only the first large-scale industrial facility that Shapiro & Duncan has designed and worked on, but also our first foray into large scale mechanical and plumbing solutions for a transit bus facility. 

    Any Design/Build project poses a challenge because it requires taking design requirements from the owner, turning them into a constructible deliverable and then actually building what is designed. In this case, our team was breaking new ground by designing mechanical and plumbing systems for our first large scale industrial. Another challenge was taking design requirements that had been used on older WMATA vehicle platforms and bridging them to the agency’s current equipment performance (e.g., hybrid bus engines). For example, the RFP documents lacked detailed requirements on the owner’s compressed air needs, which resulted in the system being upsized significantly.

    As is the case with every Shapiro & Duncan project, coordination was a big part of the solution for WMATA.

    Posing another challenge was a 529-day delay in the start of the project. The site originally chosen by WMATA was under an EPA moratorium because the site’s infrastructure was overtaxed environmentally. Because of that, permits could not be obtained from Prince Georges County, Md. and the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC). Before our team could start work, several major renovations by WSSC had to be performed at waste water pumping stations to avoid allowing effluent to make its way into the environment. 

    Stopping and starting a mechanical systems project always creates challenges – even more so when the project is Design/Build. In Design/Build mode, it helps when construction occurs at a continuing pace, which allows the design team to make fluid changes on the fly. 

    The Solution
    Our mechanical solution for WMATA stemmed from our team’s willingness to dig into the details of the transit agency’s current bus fleet and help the client define their actual system needs. This proved to be the key to meeting the original intent of the project requirements. One example of this meticulous solution-building approach was bringing several newer WMATA buses to the site and testing their exhaust in various modes. 

    As is the case with every Shapiro & Duncan project, coordination was a big part of our solution for WMATA. In fact, we were hired to manage and oversee the entire 3D building information modeling (BIM) process on behalf of the general contractor. Our Virtual Design and Coordination (VDC) team succeeded in coordinating all of the major systems that needed to be installed in this very large facility — from heating and cooling, to fuel and lubrication, to vehicle lifting, to overhead cranes that move equipment around the shop. 

    Utilizing our cutting-edge BIM software, the VDC team was able to interweave all of these systems into the building with adequate clearance to function as intended. Even when faced with project delays that caused stopping and starting on the job, and the need to re-coordinate some design elements based on changing field conditions, our VDC team remained undaunted. In keeping with lean construction principles, prefabrication was another key element of our WMATA solution. Shapiro & Duncan’s 51,000-sq.ft. prefabrication shop in
    Landover, Md. prefabbed the majority of the piping needed for this job and sent it to the jobsite for just-in-time installation.


    WMATA Andrews Federal Center Bus Garage
    Location: Suitland, Md.

    Contract amount: $23 million
    Duration: Sept. 1, 2014 to May 1, 2019

    Design/Build General Contractor: Hensel Phelps
    Design/Build Mech. Contractor: Shapiro & Duncan, Inc. 
    Design/Build Architect: Systra
    Project Manager: Ameen Khouri
    Supporting tradespersons: CMC Sheet Metal, Schneider Electric Critical Controls, Goel Insulation, Metro Test and Balance, Bay Associates (for radiant flooring) and Digging and Rigging (for rigging). 


    • 29 Innovent rooftop make-up air units 

    • 4 AAON rooftop energy recovery units 

    • 5 Trane rooftop air handler units

    • 5 Lochinvar hydronic boilers

    • 101 Mars blower curtain units 

    • 27 Cook emergency exhaust fans

    • 12 Cook vehicle exhaust fans

    • 29 Cook exhaust fans

    • 14 Bell & Gossett hydronic pumps

    • Uponor radiant flooring system for fuel/wash building

    In our largest industrial Design-Build project completed to date, the Shapiro & Duncan team succeeded in taking WMATA’s design requirements and, translated those requirements into an excellent end product that serves WMATA’s modern-day bus fleet maintenance needs. In a final flourish, upper management of general contractor Hensel Phelps went so far as to point out that although their company had built several similar industrial facilities before, this project was the most aesthetically pleasing to date. 

    No matter how large or challenging the project, Shapiro & Duncan has what it takes to design and build a world-class mechanical solution.