Photo: © Steve Hall
Photo: © Steve Hall

Balyasny Asset Management’s extra power requirements 50 floors high no problem for contractor J.T. Magen

It was an impressive move for Balyasny Asset Management, a Chicago-based investment management firm, to secure new office space on the 49th and 50th floors at River Point, a 52-story skyscraper with stunning views of the city and Chicago River. But the high-level perch created quite a construction challenge for their general contractor, J.T. Magen & Company Inc.

Trading companies have massive power needs that include large generators and redundant back-up systems so the power never goes out on their traders, especially when markets are in full swing, explains Aaron Darroch, project manager for J.T. Magen.

At River Point, the two-ton diesel generator is on the ground level, and the four giant electrical cables – two inches in diameter with insulation – that were required to meet the power needs were heavy to lift, says Darroch. “It was a big undertaking to pull the heavy cables up 50 floors to power IT systems and work stations for 150 traders with four screens each,” he adds.

Photo © Steve Hall

Challenges resolved

J.T. Magen had to analyze structural loads, the strength of the cables to extend in a continuous run without splices for nearly 700 feet, and installation logistics. The solution was to first drill four holes in the concrete floor slabs on each of the 50 floors near the freight elevator doors. Since the building was occupied, the team had to start drilling with diamond-tipped concrete corers at 6 a.m. and be done for the business day by 8 a.m., explains Darroch.

Conduit was installed running up between the floors, and then heavy-duty wire-pulling equipment handled pulling the electrical cable up through the conduit and floor slab holes to reach the 50th floor. The team built a cable support structure/junction box every 10 floors to anchor and distribute the weight loads of the hanging cable, adds Darroch.

An employee fitness center on the 49th floor created another construction challenge for the J.T. Magen team. High-end real estate requires protecting other tenants from the noise and vibration generated by workout equipment. Darroch says the solution was to install an isolated jack slab, essentially an elevated concrete slab with acoustical material between it and the floor below, to deaden the sound.

Photo © Steve Hall

Specialty finishes

Sourcing for specialty finishes required industry contacts, research and precision detail work by accomplished craftsmen, according to Darroch. Incorporated into the Balyasny headquarters are 4x6 ft. slabs of stone from Greece with matching chevron patterns cladding a two-story feature wall at reception; glass panels for executive offices manufactured in Italy; and 60-foot-long runs of exotic wood panels with intense grain in the boardroom and entrance.

Designed by architect Valerio Dewalt Train Associates, the main architectural highlight is the staircase in the entrance, says Darroch. It features an exposed metal structure and custom glass side panels made in Chicago, topped by a specially fabricated bronze-finish aluminum handrail. Hanging overhead following the slope of the stairs are nearly 30 illuminated blown glass globes from Italy.

“The Balyasny Asset Management space definitely has wow factor,” says Darroch, adding that the city views are great, too.

© Matt Dula