GE Aviation's love of jet engines inspires architectural design of new utility plant
At GE Aviation's world headquarters, a new power building is turning heads: The huge front façade replicates a jet engine looking to the sky.
The top of the building's rotunda features a front fan nose cone with blades around it just like a jet engine. The front windows resemble the sides of a jet engine.
That nose cone with a distinct spiral is well-known to air travelers. It's based on the cone of the CFM56-7 engine, one of the world's most ubiquitous engines, which powers the popular Boeing 737. The CFM56-7 is produced by CFM International, a 50/50 joint company of GE and Safran Aircraft Engines of France. The engine is assembled at the Evendale operation.
Dave Swigart, the original project manager for the facility, wanted a bold north entrance to the campus that celebrates GE's heritage and shows what's happening in the building - hence the large windows. "The project definitely presented a unique opportunity," said Randy Schultz, project manager for KZF Design, the Cincinnati architecture firm that created the design.
The new building is part of a $500 million renovation and expansion during this decade at the GE Aviation headquarters campus.
Besides its unique façade, the 68,000 square-foot plant will also provide the heating and cooling for the entire campus along with shop air, a reverse osmosis system and new gas service.
"Currently each building on campus has steam heat and chillers for its cooling needs," said Chris Kearns, facility utility project manager for GE Aviation. "These systems are switched off and on depending on the season, and maintenance costs rise as they age. The new chill water and hot water production equipment will be available year-round-and are more energy efficient. We anticipate a 40 percent reduction in the carbon footprint when the systems are fully phased in over the next few years."
The chillers will provide enough air conditioning for 4,000 homes and the boilers could heat 1,200 homes (at 2,000 square feet). The plant will also house new steam boilers for engine and component testing. The new boilers will replace two existing steam plants on the facility that date back to the 1940s.
Kearns said the Reverse Osmosis system or RO is produced by GE Water. It will provide high purity water for testing and the steam boilers and serve as a GE Water showcase site for this new technology.
Phase one of the mechanical electrical phase will be complete this summer, and the boilers will start providing heat this fall. The next phases will add offices and a control room to the building.