NIB/ Kaiser Permanente

NIB/ Kaiser Permanente

Alexandria, Virginia

Contract Value: $10 Million

GC: James G. Davis Construction

Owner: National Industries of the Blind

Engineer: KTA Group, Inc. and Smith Group

Project Description

National Industries of the Blind is a nonprofit organization, focusing on training and employment for people who are blind. NIB sought the 100,000-sf. building as a headquarters with an expanded training facility. The seven-story building is also the location of Kaiser Permanente’s 40,000-sf. Alexandria Medical Office.

With the size of the building, KTA elected to install an Air Cooled VRF system with outside air being delivered through two energy recovery units – one system on the third-floor roof and the other on the seventh-floor roof. Each floor was split up in a North and South.


With the building expected to be the only one in the area with a four-story parking garage – and currently still is — Mallick Mechanical Contractors entered the project with the expectations that Potomac River ground water would be present.

To combat this, the building contained an under-slab drainage system connected to a duplex pump for removing unwanted water.


It was discovered that the volume of ground water was larger than expected, forcing Mallick Mechanical Contractors to adapt.

The water – along with Iron Ochre – constantly blocked up temporary pumps, creating a risky situation for the under-slab drainage system. In order to overcome this, Mallick Mechanical Contractors installed over 100 cleanouts – which they were originally just planning to execute for the ground piping for jetting — to keep the drain system properly maintained and preserve the project’s delicate timeline.

It had soon been discovered that the original plan for the vault – located four stories below ground and in close proximity of the Potomac River — was not adequate and needed to be replaced. Mallick Mechanical Contractors assigned one team leader – along with two other employees – to redesign the system and install it within a month’s time frame.

Mallick Mechanical Contractors installed three new pumps – each pumping 250 GPM — and replaced all the accessible galvanized pump pipes with grooved plastic piping. An additional plastic piping line was also added, which was dedicated to pump discharge and directed to the storm drain.

With knowledgeable leadership guiding the team through this unexpected setback, Mallick Mechanical Contractors developed and implemented a strong plan of action to remove the unwanted water and preserve the project’s tight deadline.

The building had originally been designed with reinforced concrete. But as the construction proceeded and while Mallick Mechanical Contractors were working to fix the Iron Ochre issue in the vault, Kaiser Permanente agreed to lease about three stories of the building and requested elevated ceilings.

Mallick Mechanical Contractors complied, fashioning a minor tweak in the piping design. Holes were cut in the I Beams to run the piping along them to grant additional ceiling space.

Communication was vital to this portion of the project, requiring Mallick Mechanical Contractors to inform and collaborate with electricians, sheet metal workers and many more project coworkers to meet and surpass the customer’s expectations.