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School Construction 2004

August 12, 2004

New vocational center a model for innovation

  • Dual-occupancy mechanical systems allow shops, classrooms under one roof
    CDi Engineers


    Up close and personal is the name of the game in technical education these days. The more realistic the vocational setting, the better prepared students are for employment upon graduation.

    Students can't get much closer to the real thing than at the Apprenticeship Training Center on South Seattle Community College's Duwamish campus.

    Vocational shops are just a few steps away from classrooms, thanks to mechanical engineering innovations that allow shops and classrooms to be housed side by side in a single building. Open a door, and you move from one area to the other. It's the first known application of dual-occupancy engineering systems of its kind in the area.

    Shop work, class work

    The Apprenticeship Training Center (ATC) is a 21,650-square-foot industrial-type building, tall enough to fit a small airplane. Half of the building houses shop lab areas for training apprentices in light industrial work. The other half contains classrooms and administrative offices.

     Apprenticeship Training Center
    Photo courtesy of CDi Engineers
    South Seattle Community College’s Apprenticeship Training Center features separate air and wastewater systems for its classrooms and vocational shops.

    Each half of the building has distinct engineering requirements. The shops need special exhaust and make-up air systems to handle a wide variety of industrial operations. The five classrooms and administrative areas, on the other hand, require separate systems for a clean environment.

    Students in the vocational shops may work on anything from assembling machinery and furniture to repairing automobiles or large machinery. The high-bay shop areas are at least two stories high and feature garage doors with 15 feet of clearance.

    ATC shops can be leased out to private businesses when classes are not in session. Full-height walls with soundproofing separate the shops from one another and from the classrooms, so lectures can be conducted while band saws or air compressors are in use.

    Independent air systems

    Each shop has a dedicated staged exhaust system. A user can increase or reduce the number of air changes per hour, depending on the project. Similarly, each shop has its own staged make-up air supply system. Compressed air stations are also available to users for shop tools.

    By keeping the shops' air systems independent of each other, multiple projects can go on at once. One group might disassemble a big threshing machine at one end of the building while a different class assembles fine furniture at the other.

    Floor drains in the shop areas clean wastewater before it enters the waste system. Sand, oil and grit are collected through an underground interceptor that is flush with the floor slab in the high-bay storage area, and then discarded into the waste system.

    For energy savings, each classroom has a fan-powered variable air volume system, which delivers supply air depending on heating or cooling demand. Carbon dioxide sensors determine the room level of carbon dioxide and adjust the outside air dampers.

    Collecting dust

    In a separate wood shop area, table saws, band saws, sanders, grinders and drill presses all generate considerable amounts of dust.

    So engineers designed a sawdust collection system and added dedicated make-up air and exhaust systems. These are staged in tandem with the sawdust collectors.

    When collectors come on and air is exhausted, air quality and temperatures in the shop could be affected. The make-up air system automatically compensates, maintaining temperature consistency.

    When the sawdust collector unit is turned off, the exhaust fan can be used for general exhausting needs, all controlled by the shop's users.

    An actual campus

    Schreiber & Lane Architects headed the design team for the ATC. Their design adopted the scale, materials and form of industrial buildings in the Duwamish area.

    Simple and inexpensive, yet durable and sustainable materials form the core of the building structure and systems. The large high-bay shops are arranged in a simple rectilinear form using tilt-up concrete, while classrooms feature arched steel roof trusses and corrugated steel siding, much like the other prominent buildings on the campus.

    The ATC's location at the southwest corner of the campus and its design treatment help to reinforce to students and staff that an actual campus exists, rather than just a collection of buildings scattered around a parking lot.

    Seattle Central Community College plans to add 6,000 more square feet of shop and classroom space to the Apprentice Training Center in the near future, creating an even more flexible and diverse facility than it is today.

    Jon Della is a project manager with CDi Engineers, a full-service mechanical engineering firm headquartered in Lynnwood.

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