A combination museum, clearinghouse for historic Underground Railroad data, and center for furthering social justice, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, is a living testament to the American struggle to abolish human enslavement and secure freedom for all people.
Under contract with Blackburn Architects, B&N proudly took part in the creation of this 158,000-square foot, nationally-acclaimed museum which opened in August 2004, by providing mechanical, electrical and civil engineering design services for the three-building complex.
Highlights of the work performed by B&N include HVAC, plumbing, fire protection, lighting, power and system designs. B&N provided system design solutions that addressed a number of complex issues, including strict humidity and temperature requirements for the museum’s historical artifacts. The multiple-use complex – which includes learning centers, exhibit spaces, a theater, large gathering halls and dining areas – required specialized lighting as well as security, PA, audio/visual and signage systems. B&N also played an integral part in designing utilities and assisting with the landscape design.
B&N designed, developed and tested three prototypes in house. The design used in the inspection was constructed with parts from hardware and outdoor equipment stores. The weight of the device was a key factor in the development process as inspectors would have to carry it, along with 600-foot ropes and additional inspection equipment, as they repeatedly scaled the bridge’s 500-foot towers during the three-week inspection.
Ken Sponaugle, PE, served as project manager for all aspects of this project. The firm also, in a separate but related contract with the City of Cincinnati, designed a grid of new streets adjacent to the museum complex. This effort was led by Steve Smith, PE.