Case Study of the FBI Miami Field Office

Project background

Advanced design and government buildings? It might surprise you to learn that these categories are not mutually exclusive. Consider the Benjamin P. Grogan and Jerry L. Dove Federal Building in Miramar, Florida. This campus, which serves as an integrated hub for FBI activities in Southern Florida, epitomizes high-performance engineering. Comprising two connected office towers, an annex, a multi-level parking structure, a screening facility for visitors, and a separate employee entrance, it meets stringent criteria for sustainability and the goal of the U.S. General Services Administration to construct a “100-year building.”

Challenges and Solutions

As part of a design/build team, Syska sought to engineer systems that are reliable, redundant, resilient, and secure while achieving a low carbon footprint. During the design process, Syska used computational fluid dynamic modeling to analyze the thermal performance of the curtainwall system to maximize efficiencies and ensure worker comfort. One of the solutions that stemmed from this analysis was the use of diamond-patterned, metal sunscreens to mitigate
direct solar exposure on some sections of the curtainwall. The sunscreens also reflect diffused light onto the interior ceilings.

To control building pressurization and humidity, Syska opted for a modular configuration of HVAC systems. The configuration employs one dedicated air handling unit per office tower for energy recovery and supplies conditioned outdoor air to air handling units on each floor.

As a redundancy measure, Syska supplemented the water-cooled chillers in the main plant with an air-cooled chiller system that automatically engages in the event of machine failure, water shortage, or utility power losses. Chilled water piping was routed below grade to avoid all wetland reclamation ponds and other utilities.

To leverage natural resources and provide a secure source of make-up water for the cooling tower, Syska employed an on-site well, supplemented with storm water collected from facility rooftops. Solar thermal collectors on the rooftops support domestic water heating, while an electric storage tank heater serves as a backup. And solar photovoltaic panels above the parking garage and roofs of the annex produce electricity and provide shading, negating the need for mechanical fan systems.

Results

The project exceeded the ambitious goals of the GSA’s Design Excellence Program. Upon completion, the acting GSA administrator noted, “The state-of-the-art facility creates a 21st century work environment that saves taxpayer dollars, increases collaboration and helps the FBI perform vital public services.” And this environment will last a century – at least.

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