The Assignment: Norfolk Southern Dispatch Center – a way to connect all operations
Managing a multi-phased construction program for a company that has literally no downtime is no easy feat. The Norfolk Southern Network Operations Center represents not only a class A multi-phased construction renovation project but a new way of thinking for a centuries-old company. Norfolk Southern decided to close its Roanoke location in favor of combining its eight main dispatch locations into one.
Train dispatching at NS has historically been performed by operations centers in each of 8 regions; when the construction completed, Norfolk Southern became a centrally-managed hub for the dispatch team. To keep pace with an evolving industry, NS brought these regions into one centralized Operations center at the Atlanta facility.
The design called for the renovation of 16,000 SF of existing interior space, as well as the installation of exterior steel roof framework to house redundant HVAC units. Unique challenges included facility ‘hardening’, redundant utility services for power, HVAC, and data, and mission-critical components such as security doors, metal grating, and high-end finish materials all sourced from overseas.
Working in an operational facility, directly over the railroad data center, the use of raised access flooring, and an open ceiling concept with fully exposed overhead infrastructure provided unique logistical challenges. The numbers really speak for themselves; with over 6,400 Linear feet of electrical conduit, 12,000 linear feet of data cabling, 600,000 feet of general electrical wiring, and fully redundant data rooms and rooftop air handlers with 34,000 pounds of galvanized roof steel HVAC supports – this was no doubt a TON of work – seventeen tons to be exact.
Through an intentional preconstruction process and scheduling, buyout, and procurement, we were able to secure all long-lead materials and coordinate the work so that the components could be sequenced appropriately.
Norfolk’s office must remain operational. Period. There is not time to shut down. Downtime affects Norfolk’s bottom line and is a safety concern. As the project team sat down to review the means and methods, special attention on how to keep the building functional was the top priority.
Logistically, to keep Norfolk running, our team reviewed and planned for each system in the schedule. The construction impacted major systems from the fire alarm panel to the cooling system to critical electrical panels. Leapley’s project team instituted a fire watch to sweep every floor every hour while the system was upgraded. During chiller shutdowns and relocation of the major glycol cooling lines, Leapley installed temporary HVAC. Other systems accounted for during shutdown times were the security center and elevator control panel – each had their own targeted methods procedures which were completed during the least trafficked times in the building.
With such a lofty goal of no shutdowns, the timing of the entire project could have lasted much longer – but the relocated dispatchers had to be in the new facility by Thanksgiving. To accomplish this timeline with a fully operational building, the Leapley team worked split shifts four days per week and two additional normal shifts – totaling six days per week on site. No detail was spared, all deliveries were scheduled and special orders were made well in advance.
This attention to detail allowed the team to deliver the project on time.
Project Type: Corporate Interior
Size: 16,000 SF interior construction plus installation of exterior steel roof framework to house redundant HVAC units