What began as an oil company warehouse in 1923 in East Austin, TX has evolved over the years into a re-imagined office space, and in 2011 the building became home to the Texas Society of Architects headquarters. In renovating the building to meet their needs, Texas Society of Architects aimed to update the facility for modern times without losing its original charm and character. Building acoustics needed major improvements, as well as the functionality and layout of the space, which were difficult to redesign while preserving the historical elements of the site.
For its updated HVAC system, the facility was drawn to VRF technology for its premium efficiency, low sound, and ability to fit the tight existing spaces that other types of equipment could not accommodate. DXS worked with Jose Guerra, Inc. to tackle the job, and provided Daikin VRV IV heat pump and heat recovery equipment. The system was completed with ceiling mounted cassettes, refnet branch piping, and a Daikin iTouch manager to ensure ease of controls for the end user.
The VRV system helped provide additional zone control in the building, improving upon the existing 2-zone system that left occupants uncomfortable in both the heavily insulated brick upper level, and the below-grade lower level. By utilizing Daikin VRV technology, DXS was able to give Texas Society of Architects added flexibility with units in each individual office as well as higher energy efficiency in comparison to traditional DX systems.
The facility’s lower level presented additional challenges with low ceiling height and lack of a plenum, as standard North American VRF equipment would not fit between the existing structure. During project construction, Daikin’s VRV technology advanced to provide innovative new equipment that fit the structure, making this system the first of its kind installed in Central Texas. The lower level also featured low hanging ductwork crossing a hallway, which was resolved by re-purposing a utility closet under the stairs to house a vertical air handler for the collaboration area. This use of the utility closet to connect a new unit to existing ductwork allowed Guerra and DXS to remove the low hanging ductwork without impacting the historical aesthetic of the space.
The upper level’s two original large, spiral ducts were essential to the character and design of the space, and were re-purposed to function within the existing system. To make the original ducts compatible with the updated equipment, one was designated for outdoor air intake, and the second was used to supply decoupled outside air to the upper level. By working with Guerra on this project, DXS was able to provide a creative solution that met all of the facility’s HVAC needs.