UNT Discovery Park MEP Upgrade: Going Beyond Replacing Like for Like?

John Kluber, Huitt-Zollars
Helen Bailey, University of North Texas

UNT Discovery Park was originally built in 1985 as a manufacturing facility for Texas Instruments. The 609,550 square foot building located on the north side of Denton, Texas, has undergone significant adaptive reuse to suit the academic and research needs of the university since UNT acquired the facility in 2002. The mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) infrastructure, however, has remained predominantly original to the building and requires replacement and upgrade to support growing research activities and to extend the life of the building for many more decades to come. As a 4/7/365 academic and research facility, the programmatic requirements for this project included providing minimal interruptions to the occupants during construction. The design engineer implemented innovative solutions to the replacement and upgrade of the current MEP systems.

This presentation will review the innovative concepts that were employed to meet both the programmatic requirements and current codes including life safety, indoor air quality and energy efficiency standards. This presentation will discuss design strategies including the use of BIM and careful consideration of cutting-edge technologies that saved time and money by reducing design time, construction installation costs and accelerated construction schedule while maintaining safety and instruction environment for the fully occupied campus. Methods and technologies to reduce unknowns and financial risks will also be discussed.

Learning Objectives

  • Explain how the use of geospatial lidar scanning created as-builts and shop drawing quality construction documents, which minimized RFIs and change orders;
  • Discuss the use of BIM to analyze and evaluate existing infrastructure to determine critical paths, ventilation effectiveness, air changes, and cost estimates;
  • Describe strategies for replacement of mechanical systems for a fully occupied facility with minimal disruption to the occupants and research activities while accelerating the construction schedule; and
  • Discuss energy savings strategies to reduce operating and maintenance expenses.


Mr. Kluber has over 30 years of design experience. John has a BME from Georgia Tech and MBA from University of Michigan. He is a PE with many certifications. He's been a requested speaker, recognized by peers with civic and design awards, written articles, prepared and taught college course work, and served on several advisory boards.

Helen Bailey joined the University of North Texas' System Facilities Planning in 2001 and has served as the Campus Architect for Facilities for the past 15 years. With 25 years experience in architectural practice, Helen is is both a APPA Certified Educational Facilities Professional (CEFP) and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional. She earned her Bachelor of Environmental Design and Master of Architecture from Texas A&M University.


Note: Abstracts and biographies are displayed as submitted by the author(s) with the exception of minor edits for style, grammar consistency, and length.