Chicago North Facility

Firm:Primera Engineers

Other Consultants:SBP, Commonwealth Edison, Solomon Cornwell Buenz, CS Associates Inc.


Description:ComEd’s Chicago North headquarters not only ensures safe and reliable power delivery to over one million customers, it also supports their sustainability goals and community commitment. Phase 2 of this multi-phase, 30-acre redevelopment includes a new 94,800-square-foot office building with an additional 10,000-square-foot education/community center, a new 64,600-square-foot standalone modern warehouse/distribution center, and future phase Make Ready utility extensions.

Two things were of utmost importance to ComEd throughout this project: sustainability and having a positive impact on the surrounding community. Both goals were addressed; however, the new office and warehouse sit on a former power plant built in 1912, which provided several unique design and construction challenges. Pre-construction Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) showed several underground obstructions that affected the design team’s original plans. Additionally, several underground obstructions not identifiable by GPR were found once the construction team broke ground. ComEd convened their subject matter experts along with the design and construction teams’ to collectively review each area of concern and agree upon a detailed course of action, significantly reducing construction delays.

Another notable challenge was the result of ComEd’s forethought to include dedicated equipment spaces in both buildings for a future campus wide Nanogrid linking equipment such as solar arrays, battery storage, and generators. However, it became evident during construction that installing the Nanogrid infrastructure in a later phase would be prohibitively disruptive. ComEd once again reacted quickly, approving additional scope to add the Nanogrid backbone infrastructure to the project. This posed major challenges as the team had to determine where conduit could enter the precast warehouse and navigate over a mile of conduit through and between the two buildings, avoiding a 752,000 gallon subterranean stormwater detention system, water main, and electrical duct packages. The entire team held regular coordination meetings to keep the exterior and interior conduit routing, maximum bends, and structural modifications to allow for warehouse foundation and wall penetrations in concert. In the end, the team succeeded in installing the infrastructure for ComEd’s future “Net Zero Ready” Nanogrid. Once fully operational, photovoltaic energy will be generated and consumed on site. During an outage, the Nanogrid will allow for continued 24/7 site operations.

The end result is an innovative, sustainable, yet beautiful, space that uses clean energy. From both an architectural and engineering standpoint, Chicago North is a testament to the aggressive goals set forth by ComEd, and executed by the design and construction team, to ensure the delivery of uninterrupted, safe energy for customers for years to come.


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