February 6, 2020

New Water Heating System Technology Modernizes Historic High-Rise Hotel Building in Downtown Chicago

Water Heating System for Hilton Chicago

Water heating system for Hilton Chicago.

Though we’re headquartered in Illinois, we work with customers across North America because water movement and management challenges are universal. However, the Chicagoland area will always be our home turf and we still get excited when we have the opportunity to work at a historic Chicago property. When that opportunity arises multiple times in the same building, we can’t help but feel honored to be trusted with keeping important landmarks in good working order.

Such was the case with Hilton Chicago, located at 720 S. Michigan Avenue. Though the hotel is one of the largest in Chicago, its impressive number of guest rooms and incomparable meeting space are only part of what makes it such a noteworthy property. Everyone from sitting U.S. presidents to royalty to Frank Sinatra himself have called Hilton Chicago home for at least a night or two and the property boasts the most expansive suites in all of Chicago. Today, it can also boast a new water heating system for its penthouse suites and, though we might be biased, we’re most excited about that feature.

A History of Trust

After the existing water heating system reached end of life, the hotel enlisted the help of Grumman/Butkus Associates (G/BA) to tackle the project. G/BA wanted to find newer technology to provide the Hotel with a more reliable system and improved temperature monitoring options, so they reached out to Metropolitan to provide an alternative solution.

We’d worked with G/BA in the past for other needs at Hilton Chicago and they have always been happy with what we were able to offer.

For this application, this heating system not only serves the two main penthouse suites on the top floors and some of the hotel’s most exclusive guests, it also sits on the 28th floor, meaning assembly and skidding had to be carefully planned to ensure the system could be loaded and unloaded in the proper order. As is often the case, the design process was collaborative. By meeting with both the building engineer and the design engineer to assist with the design, we were able to recommend a new water heating system that would help the hotel offer reliable hot water for decades to come.

Semi-Instantaneous Water Heaters, Hilton Chicago

Semi-Instantaneous water heaters.

A Future-Proof Solution

To accommodate installation into a relatively small space, we designed two custom, semi-instantaneous water heaters with ThermoTech color touch screen control panels and our MetroMix digital mixing valve to ensure safe, tempered domestic water would be reliably delivered to every fixture. We also had the help of AMS Mechanical’s expert installation to ensure everything went smoothly.

Though thermostatic mixing valves have long been a part of the plumbing industry, the design of these devices often makes them unable to handle today’s evolving demands and water characteristics, especially on a larger scale. Electronic mixing valves, such as Metropolitan’s MetroMix Stainless Steel Electronic Mixing Valves, are an emerging industry option proving to be a contemporary and reliable replacement to the legacy thermostatic valves.

Even a quality hot water system can be found lacking if it is cumbersome to maintain and monitor. Our MetroMix valves have been proving their worth in the field for years and overcome monitoring challenges with ease by integrating important safeguards such as the activation of an auto-shutoff if critical temperature is reached.

The new system produces elevated temperatures to ensure safety of the water, then mixes to deliver water at a safe temperature. The MetroMix can even be tied to the automation system so an alarm will sound if issues occur.

As for the semi-instantaneous water heaters, those are just as easy to use and designed to remain reliable. Every one of these systems comes standard with clean-in-place ports to allow for heat exchanger cleaning without removing the bundle. Traditionally, the process of cleaning is so involved that, over time, we often see systems where the cleaning is simply skipped all together. Regular cleaning helps maintain efficiency, extend use of life, and mitigate issues and damage that can occur with buildup. Also, because cleaning normally requires a system shutdown and removal of the bundle, simplifying this process saves time, reduces the resources needed for cleaning, and eliminates the risk of damage due to handling.

Finally, the ThermoTech Hot Water & Steam Temperature Management Controller provides customizable control of the new setup through an intuitive touch-screen interface. In addition to easing use overall, this controller also enables precise management of many temperature-based processes.

In the end, we’re willing to concede that the hotel’s existing bragging rights might be more exciting than reliable hot water in the penthouse suites, but we’re still proud of having a hand in another project at this historic property. And we’re certain the exclusive guests that choose Hilton Chicago in the future will appreciate the accuracy and reliability of Metropolitan during their stay.

MetroMix Digital Mixing Valve

MetroMix digital mixing valve.

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