Egan Company

Highly Specialized Project
Completed in Crunch Time

September 14, 2018

High-rise buildings are the distinguishing trademark of cities around the world. And, being the 16th largest metropolitan area in the country, Minneapolis and St. Paul are no different.

As a specialty contractor, Egan has played a role in helping to build, remodel, and maintain many of these high-rise buildings that help shape the Twin Cities’ skyline. While these projects have included scopes of all sizes, this past spring brought forth a very unique high-rise venture.

Egan’s team was utilized for a highly-specialized project in downtown St. Paul, Minn. The scope included the replacement of four massive cooling towers located on the rooftop of Galtier Tower – a staggering 31 stories from the ground.

Galtier Tower is one of two high-rise towers that make up the city block called Cray Plaza. The plaza also includes two other commercial buildings. Together, the block boasts hundreds of apartments and luxury condominiums, a small preparatory school, YMCA facility, and an assortment of other retail space – all of which fully rely on these cooling towers to air condition their buildings.

Overall, the project would require the tallest crane in Minnesota, in-house design and prefabrication, and even more pre-planning and coordination to complete the job within the compressed schedule.

Navigating a Tight Schedule

The project was officially awarded to Egan by Bigos Management in late March. From the start, Egan’s team knew the new cooling towers would need to be “flown” up to the top of the building. To do the “flying”, Egan began coordinating and pre-planning with a local crane company, Vic’s Crane and Heavy Haul.

An in-depth, engineered lift (or often called “pick”) plan was created while Egan’s team began designing the piping and support systems for the towers. A structural engineer was also hired to design the steel platforms for beneath each cooling tower based on the drawings provided by Egan.

Vic’s crane, standing at 410 feet tall, was tasked to hoist these four new cooling towers onto Galtier. However, driving a monster crane into a heavily populated urban city isn’t the most practical of tasks.

In the weeks prior to setting up the crane downtown, the city of St. Paul removed a light pole, cut down a tree, and approved and coordinated road closures. Vic’s also obtained multiple permits, clearances, and police support. Once complete, the crane took 12 hours to set-up on the street.

Another unique aspect of this project was that the new piping system for the cooling towers utilized Aquatherm – a fairly new type of system that is an environmentally friendly alternative to metal. Though extremely lightweight (and vibrantly colored!), Aquatherm pipe is one of the longest-lasting and most chemically inert piping material available.

Egan’s fabrication shop prefabricated all of the Aquatherm piping system for this job. It was also specifically designed so it could fit into the 7’7” elevator and transported to the rooftop of Galtier.

The Race to the Top

Although there was two feet of snow on the ground when the project started, Minnesota’s infamously, unpredictable spring weather found itself over 85 degrees just a few weeks later. With the previous cooling towers entirely off the building, the countdown was on to get the first new cooling tower operational in order to start cooling all of the buildings within the city block.

At the top of Galtier, Egan’s team worked with a subcontractor to set up an extensive amount of scaffolding so the team of pipefitters, electricians, and controls electricians could safely access the work. All of the prefabricated Aquatherm and structural steel platforms were also set before the crane could “fly” the cooling towers to the roof.

The first weekend of May, less than six weeks after being awarded the project, Egan’s team, alongside Vic’s, successfully lifted and installed all four cooling towers onto Galtier. The compressed schedule… accomplished.

Egan installed a majority of the piping after the cooling towers were set and officially completed the project in July.

Core Project Team: Bigos Management, Vic’s Crane and Heavy Haul

Services Provided: Cooling towers replacement, pipe fabrication, pipefitting, electrical controls, electrical installation