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Vanderweil Engineers Earns Multiple Awards
March 10, 2008

The Library of Congress National Audio-Visual Conservation Center in Culpeper, Va., has earned the top award from Mid-Atlantic Construction magazine in its Best of 2007 awards program, recognizing excellence in design and construction. Vanderweil Engineers, one of the nation’s leading mechanical/electrical engineering firms, designed the building systems for the center, which required state-of-the-art temperature control and fire protection systems. The conservation center won “Overall Project of the Year” and “Institutional Project of the Year.”

In addition, the Phoenix at Clarendon Metro in Arlington, Va., won “Mixed-Use Project of the Year.” A third Vanderweil project, the U.S. Pharmacopeia headquarters consolidation in Rockville, Md., won an Award of Merit in the Institutional category. Vanderweil Engineers provided mechanical/electrical and plumbing engineering for both projects.

The design of the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center, which now houses the world’s largest collection of moving images and sound recordings, involved a complex adaptive reuse of a former Federal Reserve Cold War bunker. Protection of the six million items requires a constant 50°F-35% RH in the repositories, with the exception of the storage vaults for pre-1951 cellulose nitrate film, which is highly combustible. These vaults are kept at a constant 39°F-10.0 grains of moisture, and the motion picture storage is kept at 25°F-35% RH.

The 415,000-square-foot complex, which was designed by SmithGroup, involved extensive renovations to the existing structure as well as the construction of a 271,000-square-foot addition. The facility includes the storage and preservation center, a visitor center, a teaching-conservation laboratory, four theaters, and a recorded sound laboratory with 12 sound- and vibration-proof chambers.

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