As the highly-anticipated National Museum of African American History and Culture nears completion—the Smithsonian museum opens to the public in June 2016—Electrical Alliance contractor, Mona Electric Group, Inc., is putting the finishing touches on the state-of-the-art electrical, fire alarm and security systems.
The new building is being constructed on the last available space on the National Mall, sandwiched between the National Museum of American History and 15th Street (adjacent to the Washington Monument). Mona Electric is providing the electrical, fire alarm and security work for the main building as well as the electrical work supporting the buildout of the exhibits.
Mona has a reputation as a contractor that specializes in technically challenging projects while still being cost-competitive. They put their past experience and expertise to work to achieve a very high level of quality while paying attention to detail on this highly visible project.
“Museums are very different from normal buildings,” explained Randy Kurty, Executive Vice President of Mona. “Nothing is standard. Office buildings have typical floors where work is repetitive, but in a museum there are no typical floors—each area is slated for something unique.”
Despite the atypical nature of the project, Mona has been able to capitalize on its ability to pre-fab many components. They employed BIM (Building Information ModelIng) to design and fabricate components in its off-site shop to ensure they were all built to the same standard.
“Even though there were no typical floors, there were still large numbers of multiple items where we could prefabricate the components for the electricians to install,” said Kurty. “Prefabrication saves time and effort on the job, reduces waste on the job site, and contributes to a safer project by preparing the components in a controlled environment.”
Mona also included some unique green features in its work. Whereas it is common practice to use incandescent bulbs or flood lights, Mona used LED lights for the temporary lighting during construction. The low voltage LED system runs on 24 volts, which almost eliminates the risk of shock. The lights are also virtually indestructible and have a longer life than incandescent bulbs. (50,000 hrs.)
When the building opens to the public it will be a venue for ceremonies and performances as well as a primary exhibition space for African American history and culture. Watch the Smithsonian’s fly-through of the building.
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