Elevating Mount Sinai St. Luke’s One Piece at a Time

Part of the Mount Sinai Health System (MSHS), Mount Sinai St. Luke’s (MSSL) hospital is a leading healthcare provider for the Morningside Heights neighborhood in Manhattan, New York. In 2013, MSHS embarked on a complex effort to upgrade the rooftop energy plant that supports MSSL’s 900,000-square-foot campus. The new plant was designed to replace an existing outdated boiler plant on the southeast corner of campus, in a building which was being sold. In addition to the new boiler plant, the project included a new emergency generator plant and cooling towers built on an adjacent roof.

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To maintain hospital operations with minimal disruption to patient care, the design team had to carefully phase construction of the energy plant’s various components. To accelerate the construction timeline, MSHS took an innovative approach to the construction of the boiler plant using prefabrication and modular construction.

Situated on the roof of the main hospital building, on the north side of 114th Street, the new boiler plant was designed as 14 separate components—each sized to fit on the back of a flatbed truck, which could safely pass over bridges and beneath underpasses. Due to this size limitation, Syska engineers adapted the design from four larger boilers to five smaller ones. Each of the five 450-BHP high-pressure steam boilers was constructed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, shipped to Canada to prefabricate the boiler plant within the 14-module enclosure and then transported on flatbed trucks to Morningside Heights.

Once on site, the pieces were lifted by crane and “connected” to each other on the roof. The supporting piping and conduits for each compartment were also assembled at the factory before being shipped to the construction site. Syska also replaced the existing fuel oil system with two new 20,000-gallon tanks and associated pumping and piping distribution systems, and reconfigured the campus condensate retrieval system.
This innovative approach is not typically applied to boiler projects due to the interdependency of the systems, and this project required careful coordination between the design, manufacturing, fabrication and construction team members from the onset. Syska’s engineers designed the equipment layout, configuration and detailed flow and control diagrams. From this information, the manufacturer created fabrication drawings of modular enclosures for factory execution. Syska’s engineers and the manufacturers and fabricators became well-versed in the overall design approach, and worked together to solve the unique challenges presented by prefabrication. Early designs had to incorporate the components’ width, height and length limitations—topics that would not typically be discussed during field-erected construction. This collaboration resulted in reduced project costs, shortened construction schedule and limited on-site construction waste.
The new boiler plant began servicing MSSL on December 31, 2017. Ultimately, prefabrication was a cost-saving and quality-enhancing solution that also reduced construction time for
MSSL’s new rooftop boiler plant.