Webster Groves School District


Since it opened in 1907, Webster Groves High School has been both an architectural and cultural landmark in the community of approximately 32,000 people. The 208,000 square foot facility which serves over 1400 students and had been built in 8 phases over 100 years. While the building had undergone many exterior and interior face lifts and enhancements over the years, central HVAC had never been in the scope, until 2005. That was the year the community voted to fund a bond issue to air condition all district facilities including the high school building.

Facility Solutions Group had been selected by the District in 2004 to develop a facility modernization plan for the anticipated bond issue and were retained to design and manage the HVAC retrofit following voter approval.

"The message from the school board regarding the high school building was clear" said FSG Project Executive, Bill Rice, "Do not compromise the building aesthetics with the new air conditioning. They wanted to feel it but not see it or hear it."


One Building, Three Challenges

A building this large that was built in phases over 100 years represented many more questions than answers. In the absence of accurate historic as-built drawings, the FSG designers and project engineers were left to ponder what hidden conditions existed behind the walls, above the ceilings and beneath the floors.

The potential constructability issues could have had a significant impact on the project budget and schedule as well as the invisibility that the school board expected. As a result, the challenges FSG had to overcome were:

  1. Design & Install an energy efficient central heating and cooling system in a 100 year old building that wasn't designed to have a central HVAC system.
  2. Avoid costly constructability issues that could result in budget over-runs.
  3. Minimize the visual impact that the new system would have on existing building aesthetics.


The Solution

The FSG directed design / build project delivery approach whereby design / build mechanical contractors collaborate with FSG design engineers before, during and after the bidding phase of the project, helped produce the perfect system to meet the challenges at hand.

A central chilled water / hot water system was used in conjunction with a variable air volume air distribution arrangement.

The key to minimizing the challenge of hidden conditions and aesthetic impact was locating the major equipment at optimized locations throughout the building.

Large central air units were located on the roof and exposed piping was run across the roof to optimize these locations. In several difficult interior areas, small mechanical rooms were created to minimize duct sizing. Finally the central chiller and boiler room was located in the lower level out of the way and acoustically insulated from occupied areas.

Dan Abbott, Project Executive for Corrigan Company, the installing Contractor, spent weeks crawling through the bowels of the building to locate every potential obstacle. Prior to installation beginning Dan commented "I know this building so well I could conduct tours for the Webster Groves Historical Society."

In the end, all of the preparation and evaluation paid off. As Diane Moore, Assistance Superintendent and Chief Financial Officer stated, "We trusted FSG & Corrigan to deliver a state-of-the-art HVAC system without harming the integrity of our building and they succeeded in every way, as promised, on time & under budget."


Client Reference:

Diane Moore
Asst. Superintendent, Chief Financial Officer
Webster Groves School District
400 East Lockwood
Webster Groves, MO 63119
(314) 961-1233


Project Profile

Location: Webster Groves, Missouri
Building Design:
3 Story Brick Structure, 280,000 Square-Feet
Primary Scope:
Install Central HVAC System throughout the building
System Selected:
Chilled Water / Heat Water - VAV
Major Equipment:
Centrifugal Chiller(s), Hot Water Boilers, Roof Mounted AHUs