A Super Bowl victory is a direct reflection of the extensive preparation of every team member both on and off the field. That winning effort is just as important for the behind the scenes preparation for the facilities that play host to Super Bowl LI, especially the approximately two-million-square-foot George R. Brown Convention Center (GRBCC) – the location of the 2017 NFL Experience Driven by Genesis.
With attention focused on the city of Houston to skillfully host such a large sporting event, the real story of success began long before kickoff. Already established as a KCI client, the Houston First Corporation and the management team of the GRBCC had some major projects in the works even before the 2013 announcement by the National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell of the city of Houston’s successful bid to hold the big game.
To enhance the visitor experience, the GRBCC began the renovation by adding an end-to-end, first-floor concourse and creating an outdoor plaza to add 110,000 square feet of exterior gathering space. KCI provided engineering related to the base-building integration for the mechanical and electrical systems in the interior spaces. Our team was also responsible for electrical circuiting and distribution associated with the lighting design for the new front site work and in Hall C for the artwork installation as well as new electrical service for the GRBCC staging lots. With several new restaurants planned, KCI provided design review and mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) integration for 60,360 net rentable square feet of space including revamped natural gas service to accommodate cooking functions. New to the GRBCC are McAlister’s Deli, Grotto Downtown, Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, and Bud’s Pitmaster BBQ. Pappas Restaurants contracted the firm directly for the MEP design of their new 9,500-square-foot restaurant. The convention center’s food service facilities also received minor upgrades with a kitchen hood replacement and kitchen waste piping.
The two projects that resulted in the greatest impact on guest comfort were the central plant upgrades and the control system overhaul. Beginning in late 2012, the original scope of work was to identify chilled water production options with advantages and disadvantages as well as cost implications. From the study, a full design solution was engineered that resulted in the reconfiguration and replacement of the facility’s chillers and accompanying pumping, taking the central plant chiller capacity from 7,200 tons to 8,400 tons. The desire to optimize the building’s automation system was a strategic initiative intent on enhancing operational control to seek the lowest combined energy use from the chillers, pumps and tower fans. KCI prepared the Building Automation System (BAS) construction documents and provided commissioning services for the completed project.
To closeout these endeavors, the KCI and GRBCC teams recently participated in a U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) project to document environmentally sustainable practices. This coordinated effort resulted in the recertification of the massive facility as LEED Silver.
Numerous years of working at the George R. Brown Convention Center have given us an intimate knowledge of operations and an opportunity for our talented team to partner with GRBCC staff in developing unique solutions and successfully completing challenging projects.
Gregory M. Tinkler, CGDPractice Leader
The GRBCC and the KCI employees actively engaged in the dozen or so projects over the past four years that reflect their hard work and collaborative efforts. Satisfaction in a job well done evidenced by operational efficiency through seamlessly engineered systems will be their own Vince Lombardi Trophy.