In an impressive display of monumental planning and creative engineering, The Macomb Group and Western Mechanical from Clinton Township used a helicopter lift to raise 14-inch carbon steel pipe to the roof of the First National Building in downtown Detroit, Mich. (You can watch a short video of the helicopter lift here .) The pipe sections, as long as 21 feet, were being installed as part of the building’s cooling system, which was undergoing maintenance. The pipe was needed for the chillers on the roof that circulate cool water throughout the building. Cutting and welding of the pipe was completed on the roof.
There was no way to bring the pipe safely inside the building, so it had to be lowered onto the roof for installation. Even a crane was unable to lift the pipe to the top of the impressive 341-foot-tall skyscraper.
The First National Building is a prime office center in downtown Detroit. Originally built in 1930, the 25-story Detroit landmark fills out a whole city block along Cadillac Square and is adjacent to Campus Martius Park. Within the Detroit Financial District, the building is uniquely “Z” shaped, to allow most offices the benefit of natural light and ventilation.
The Macomb Group is one of the few pipe companies that can handle the magnitude of fitting a skyscraper’s cooling system. The amount of pipe that needed to be installed was substantial, requiring lengths of pipe to be bundled for weight distribution to enable the helicopter to lift and transport it. The project was so extensive that the helicopter had to refuel numerous times before all of the pipe was on the roof.
The job required coordinating with the mechanical contractor, the city, and the police department. The project closed streets to traffic for several city blocks in downtown Detroit. Extensive setup and preparation were required to transport the pipe and lower it onto the roof. The job was completed on a Sunday morning to avoid causing inconvenient delays on a busy workday.
“This is the kind of specialty stuff that Macomb does deal with,” says Ron Felder, quotations manager for The Macomb Group. “There are often jobs that require extensive planning to make sure we get our materials to a site on time. Frequently, we’re working with a crane instead of helicopters, but the timing is crucial. If you miss a time drop, the whole job is out of whack, costing clients money to bring the equipment back.”