Trunk work

Drake & Scull is currently undertaking three of the largest projects underway on the Palm Jumeirah.

(Dmitry Dolzhanskiy/ITP)
(Dmitry Dolzhanskiy/ITP)

MEP contractor Drake & Scull is currently undertaking three of the largest projects underway on the Palm Jumeirah in contracts worth a total of more than $272 million; common to all is the need for co-ordination and good logistics.

Golden opportunities

The Golden Mile is aptly named. Stretching for a full mile along the length of the trunk of Dubai's Palm Jumeirah, the development's Souq Residences project comprises a total of ten 13-storey buildings.

Primarily a residential development, the project is split into two stretches, with six of the interconnecting buildings located on one side of the site of the future Trump Hotel and the remaining four on the opposite side.

Drake & Scull International (DSI) won the contract for the MEP works in the Souq Residences in competitive tender and the project is now well underway, with the first commissioning of services due to begin this summer.

The project will be completed in phases, with each building handed over individually.

Services solutions

MEP services for the project have in general been divided into five, with a set of basement plantrooms each feeding two adjacent buildings, explains DSI operations manager Naser Yaseen.

A total of 12,500TR of cooling is provided via the Palm District Cooling chilled water network that serves the overall Palm Jumeirah development. This is evenly distributed across the project, again with five dedicated stations serving the ten buildings.

The chilled water is distributed by a series of risers to a total of around 100 air handling units (ahu), with local air conditioning within the apartments being provided by fan coil units.

These methods were chosen to match the layout of the buildings, explains Yaseen.

The total 37MW electrical load will be provided by seven substations that have varying loads according to the building demands.

Four substations comprise six 1,500kVA transformers; one has four 1,500kVA transformers; the others have two 1,500kVA units.

Distribution from the main electrical rooms is by a combination of cables and busbar, depending on location and the distance to the local distribution boards. For example, if the main electrical room serving buildings one and two is sited under building one, then distribution to building one will be via cables, and busbar will be used to supply power to building two.

Co-ordinating works

The primary challenge for the services installation on the project is the sheer scale and the co-ordination that this requires. Yaseen explains: "The total area [of the project] is unusual and the total spread of area - to travel from building one to ten takes a lot of time - so it's basically logistics that's the biggest challenge."


Project: Souq Residence, Golden Mile, Palm Jumeirah

Client: IFA Hotels & Resorts

Main contractor: Al Shafar General Contracting

Architect: DSA

Mechanical consulting engineer: RPW

Electrical consulting engineer: CKR

MEP contractor: Drake & Scull International

Lighting designer: CKR


An overall logistics manager is overseeing the project, with separate teams then responsible for each individual building.

"Under this comes the movement of workers within the building from top to bottom; the movement of materials; even transportation [of workers] to and from camps," explains Yaseen.

The logistics teams keep in constant contact via various communications tools.

"If you have a lot of manpower on one site that is widely spread you need to make sure that your resources are being utilised," states Yaseen.

"Any logistical issue must be resolved on the spot; you don't have time to wait until someone a mile away from you knows about the problem, so factors like this do very much matter in a job of this nature," he stresses.

The MEP installation program follows the staggered approach of the civils works, which began at one end of the mile-long scheme and is progressing building by building towards the other end.

When needed, manpower is moved between areas depending on progress, access, availability and programming within the buildings. In addition, staffs have on occasion moved between the three projects currently being undertaken by DSI on the Palm Jumeirah.

"Having all these projects very close to each other, when required and when it is possible, it helps in exchanging resources, materials and services...the projects are all within walking distance of each other," Yaseen explains.

To counteract the small storage areas available on site, a system of just-in-time delivery is used for bulk items, with products stored centrally in the firm's off site facilities when required.

One of the other areas that is given prime importance on the project, reports DSI construction manager Ayman El Mashad is that of safety. No new staff will be allowed to work on site until they have been fully inducted and received safety training.

In addition weekly safety toolbox talks are given to all staff, including subcontractors, and all lifting equipment is calibrated, with monthly inhouse inspections and three-monthly inspections by a third party.

Tiara Towers

Located at the tip of the Palm Jumeirah trunk, developer Zabeel Investment's Tiara Hotel and Residences project is one of the most prestigious currently underway on the development.

The project comprises of seven 15-storey residential buildings that are split into two blocks of three and four adjoining buildings on either side of a central landscaped area. The twin-towered Tiara Hotel sits between the two residential buildings and comprises a hotel and hotel apartment block.

All of the buildings within the project are connected internally at the second level of the basement in order to enable the utilities connection provided by the infrastructure developer.


Project: Tiara Residence and Tiara Hotel

Client: Zaabil Investments

Main contractor: Arabtec

Architect: Dar Al Handasa

M&E consulting engineer: Dar al Handasa

MEP contractor: Drake & Scull International

Lighting designer: Dar al Handasa


The main plantrooms are located at this level, with individual plant provided for each building and repeated in the same pattern along the structure's length: "The sequence is heat exchanger room, DEWA substation room, DSI's [Drake & Scull International's] lv room, then the generator room and this will be repeated for all buildings," explains DSI project director Ahmed Shaker.

Keeping cool

Chilled water for the air conditioning system, as with the Golden Mile project, is provided by Palm District Cooling (PDC). A total of 10,000TR feeds the individual heat exchanger rooms for each building, which in turn serve a network of 41 air handling units and around 4,000 fan coil units (fcu) throughout the project.

The complete chilled water network includes 36 heat exchangers with capacities ranging from 890-1,340kW. Two pumps are connected to each in a duty and standby arrangement to provide 100% backup in the event of one failing.

In order to meet overall program demands, the air conditioning network was one of the earliest parts of the MEP system to be completed reports Shaker.

"We have to provide wild air in the building as the final fix subcontractor needs this to keep the temperatures stable inside the rooms [to protect the final finishes]," he explains.

"In order to do this we needed to have these heat exchangers completed on time, have the chilled water from PDC and have started installing the fcu in the buildings - this is one of the targets we've met already for both the [residential buildings]," states Shaker.

Completing the services

The total electrical load for the project will be 29MW. There are 11 substations spread throughout the project; these include a total of 21 transformers, each with a capacity of 1,500kVA. Each building will be served by a dedicated basement level low voltage (lv) room, with local distribution boards throughout the buildings' floors.

Back-up for essential services will be provided by small diesel generators installed in each building. These will range in capacity from 150-1,500kVA and cover services such as IT, fire alarms and building management systems. A central battery system is being installed to provide backup for the emergency lighting throughout the project.

Further MEP systems being installed by DSI include a centralised firefighting network. Including more than 115km of pipework, this will cover all the residential towers.

In order to minimise power consumption in the buildings, one of the steps taken is to include a lighting control system for the public areas, corridors and central landscaped area. This will be operated through the main building management system. The buildings will also be connected through an IP network that will enable simple and effective monitoring and control of the MEP systems.

Installation issues

The installation of MEP services is following the progress of the civil contractors. The second fix has now been completed in many of the residential apartments, with progress standing at level eight in some towers and level nine in others.

Ongoing client changes within the hotel have meant several changes to the MEP systems. Many of these relate to the desire to install the most up to date technology and systems available in the Middle East, reports Shaker, with state-of-the-art home automation one of the services being installed.

"If you are looking for the latest technology you have to update your information daily," Shaker remarks. Issues affecting the MEP contractor in particular include the need to surface-mount conduits - a design change from the original concealed versions.

Currently DSI has around 1,640 staff employed on the project, close to its peak of 1,700. Around 300 of these staff are employed for works on the hotel, with the remainder working on the residences.

Management is led by Shaker as project director, there is then one project manager, one construction manager, two senior mechanical engineers, two senior electrical engineers, and a dedicated site engineer for each building.

The fast-track nature of the project is cited by Shaker as its most challenging aspect. In order to meet the tight deadlines set, this is being overcome by a combination of management and logistics, he reports.

In the initial stages of the project, such management included the use of a separate technical office for engineering and drawings. "We had around 20 draughtsmen just to do the shop drawings, otherwise we could not finish in the short timescale available," Shaker states.

With much of the MEP installation nearing completion it seems that such tactics have worked effectively.

Future Fairmont

One of the latest projects to be won by Drake & Scull International (DSI) is for the MEP installation in the Fairmont Palm Hotel & Resort, with the contract being awarded during June 2008.

Again located on the trunk of Dubai's Palm Jumeirah, this project is sited close to the Golden Mile and forms part of the same development as the Fairmont Residences, which DSI is also currently undertaking.

Under the US $44 million (AED162 million) contract for client IFA Hotels & Resorts, DSI will supply, install, test and commission the complete heating, ventilation and air conditioning (hvac) systems, plumbing, drainage, water treatment and firefighting services for the five-star hotel. In addition, the firm will supply and install low pressure gas, electrical and small power systems, a hotel interactive tv system, guest room management system, cctv and access controls.

The 400-room hotel is being built between two buildings that will form the Fairmont Residences. These 13-storey residential buildings are formed as two opposing L-shapes, with all buildings facing the beachfront.

As with the other Palm projects on which DSI is currently working, the air conditioning for the buildings will be provided by a central system, with chilled water supplied by Palm District Cooling.

"We are providing around 3,000TR per building [for central air conditioning] and we have around 1,000 fan coil units per building and 25 air handling units," states DSI project manager Mohammed Mujeeb Khan. Hot water will be provided by around 700 water heaters in each building.

The main plantrooms for the project are located at roof level, with further plant such as heat exchangers being sited in basement plantrooms.

One main electrical substation will serve the entire project, with two step-down transformers located on site.

In terms of control, each building will have an individual building management system (bms). However, proposals are underway concerning the communication between all three bms to enable full centralised control of MEP systems.


Project: Fairmont Palm Residences and Hotel

Client: IFA Hotels & Resorts

Main contractor: Dubai Contracting Company (DCC)

Architect: DSA

Mechanical consulting engineer: RPW

Electrical consulting engineer: CKR

MEP contractor: Drake & Scull International

Lighting designer: CKR


Around 40% of the MEP installation has been completed in the residential buildings, reports Khan, with the floor designs similar between levels two and nine, which has eased the process.

Within the hotel the layout of MEP systems on floors two to eight will follow the same general design, simplifying the installation in the fast-track project.

There are around 28 flats per floor, with a total of around 280 flats per building; these are virtually identical throughout until the penthouse level. The main service route through the buildings is via the central corridors, with services then branching out to each individual apartment.

Programming practices

DSI currently has a total of around 725 employed across the two residential buildings and the hotel, with this number expected to increase under the new contract.

Staff will permanently work in the same building throughout the projects and those in the residential buildings will not be moved into the hotel unless necessary. This will help ensure any lessons learned on the earlier floors of the job can be carried throughout, saving installation time, explains Khan.

"Each floor, if there is full access, will take around 25-30 days [for the MEP installation]...this is getting faster as we are going up the building," reports Khan.

An overall project manager is overseeing the entire development, with separate project managers then in charge of the residences and hotel individually. Under this top management level, electrical, plumbing and air conditioning engineers will oversee the staff in each building independently.

Large plant items were ordered early in the construction process to ensure delivery when needed. The largest issue on the project to date has been available storage space reports Khan.

"It's a tight site. We've been using just in time deliveries, but we have to hold some of the materials because of price increases, so we've been moving these materials around site to suit where there is space," he explains. In addition the firm is making use of the DSI off site storage facilities where possible.


Drake & Scull International Palm project providers

Air conditioning: Zamil Air Conditioning

Building management systems: Honeywell Middle East

Cable management systems: Eastern Trading

Cables: Ducab

Chemical treatment systems: Vasuchem Technologies

Clamps and expansion vessels: Flamco

Control cables: Tekab

Diesel generators: Mohamed Abdul Rahman Al-Bahar

Ductwork: Emirates AC Accessories

Electrical containment: Bahri & Mazroei Technical Systems

Electrical equipment: Schneider Electric

ELV and security systems: Bahri & Mazroei Technical Systems, The Elite Group

Firefighting systems: NAFFCO Security & Safety (Fire Protection Division)

Heat exchangers: Gulf Sondex

HVAC accessories and equipment: Eros Engineering Equipment, Gmamco, Royal Gulf, Seagull (hvac) industry

Low voltage panels: Powertech Switchgear

Light fittings: Debbas Electric, Decolight Trading

Mechanical equipment: Faisal Jassim Trading

Pumps provider: Danway

Security: The Elite Group

Steel: Al Fajar Steel & Wood Trading

Water heaters: Mac Al Gurg

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