National Research & Training Institute, National Federation of the Blind

Higher Education Engineering

Leach Wallace was commissioned to design the mechanical and electrical systems for the new five-story, 170,000 SF National Research and Training Institute for the Blind. The eighteen million dollar building was connected to the existing 200,000 SF National Center for the Blind, via a new enclosed pedestrian bridge, which houses the National Federation of the Blind’s national headquarters. The Institute now features over 22,500 SF of classroom space, a library and literary research center, multipurpose center to seat 900, archival storage, office space, new main lobby and foyer and a covered and below grade 86-space parking garage.

After completion, the core of the mechanical system included two 277-ton rooftop air-cooled screw chillers. The chillers were split, with the evaporator bundle inside and the condenser bundle outside. Two 2452 MBH gas-fired cast iron sectional boilers provided heating hot water and primary/secondary pumping systems served both the heating hot water and the chilled water systems. A total of six air handling units, plus an additional air handling unit dedicated for outside air, conditioned the building. Any mechanical equipment, sound generation or transmission had to be minimized, in deference to the heightened needs of the occupants. The electrical system design included a total of ten step-down transformers, and a 260A automatic transfer switch to power emergency loads from the diesel generator set. Communications system design for the project included a complete telecommunications premises cabling system for voice and data services.

Project Features

• Office space
• Classroom space
• Lecture Hall
• Research Center
• Library
• Pedestrian Bridge
• Parking garage
• Archival storage
• Elevator
• Communications system

Services Provided

• Mechanical
• Electrical
• Plumbing
• Fire protection
• Energy analysis
• Information technology


• 170,000 SF
• 5-story addition


• Ammon Heisler Sachs