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Saint Louis Art Museum Expansion

Location: St. Louis, MO
Completed: 2012
Client: Saint Louis Art Museum
Size: 200,000 SF

When the new $130.5 million, 200,000-square-foot expansion at the Saint Louis Art Museum opens in early 2013, it will boast state-of-the-art lighting, security, life safety and power systems, all installed by Guarantee Electrical.

Guarantee has been an integral part of a talented design and construction team by contributing sophisticated Building Information Modeling (BIM) and delivering cost-saving, quality-boosting efficiencies with prefabricated elements. The project blends modifications to the original Cass Gilbert-designed Art Museum with a 30 percent expansion for new galleries and public spaces plus a 300-car parking facility. Guarantee is the only member of the team that claims a legacy dating to the museum's origins as the "one material monument" of the 1904 World's Fair. Guarantee was founded in 1902 to electrify the fair.

Construction pacing since project startup in late 2009 has been set by the expansion's structural concrete elements, giving the Guarantee team time to respond with solutions that meet the aesthetic design expectations of the owner and architect, London-based David Chipperfield Architects with St. Louis-based HOK as architect of record. Construction completion in 2012 will allow the owner to monitor temperature and humidity for six months in preparation for art and artifact displays.

The tight tolerances of an expansion constructed almost entirely of poured-in-place structural concrete demand exactitude in every detail of Guarantee's work, which includes:

  • Lighting types and controls,
  • Security system features and functions with life safety elements to guard the museum's tens of thousands of visitors and its collection of more than 30,000 art objects, and
  • Power capacity and reliability.

To streamline the final look of all concrete surfaces and reduce construction and maintenance costs, Guarantee is embedding conduit for all electrical and security wiring within the concrete. Clashes among mechanical, electrical and piping (MEP) locations have been eliminated through Guarantee's three-dimensional (3D) modeling. Underground boring of new electrical raceways has protected mature landscaping and navigated around existing utilities.

Lighting. Guarantee is installing a state-of-the-art lighting control system and complex relay system to improve illumination of the museum’s treasured collections and heighten energy efficiency. The computer-activated system will control nearly every light in the building with T5 and T8 fluorescent fixtures to reduce energy usage. Filtered incandescent lighting is being coupled with natural light to illuminate artwork. Within the expansion’s glass dome ceiling, Guarantee is wiring a low-voltage, horizontal custom skylight shade system. The coffered ceiling below the skylight system contains more than 600 custom-built light spreaders to provide optimal gallery lighting by using natural light and customized track lighting. To prevent condensation on skylights that could damage artwork below, Guarantee will install more than 400 draft barrier heaters.

Security & Life Safety. Protecting the security of the museum’s valuable collection has been paramount throughout the project. Due to schedule requirements, Guarantee installed a new security suite early in the project to monitor concealed cameras, access control and fire alarm systems for the existing museum. This intricate tie-in and changeover were closely coordinated with the Museum and achieved without security breaches. Guarantee crews will install and tie in all new building security and life safety elements during the expansion’s interior build-out as well.

Power. The expansion project created an opportunity to upgrade the existing museum’s power reliability and address expanded power needs. Guarantee will install a new 5KV power distribution system plus a new 450 kw generator to ensure a more robust system. Because the museum remains operational during construction, extra precautions taken by Guarantee have assured power and security integrity throughout construction, including generator-powered backup systems.

Guarantee is teamed on the project with TD4, a minority-owned electrical contractor in St. Louis. Guarantee and TD4 are subcontractors to the joint venture of general contractor Tarlton with KAI Design & Build of St. Louis and Pepper Construction of Chicago. William Tao & Associates of St. Louis is MEP engineer.


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