The Mary J. Drexel Home
                Assisted Living Addition

                               Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania

                                              Gjon Tomaj
                                                           Construction Management Option

Building Statistics



-- General Building Data --

Building Name: The Mary J. Drexel Home Assisted Living Addition
Location: 238 Belmont Ave | Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004
Occupancy Type: Assisted Living Residence (ALR)
Size of West Wing: 34,108 gross square feet
Size of East Wing: 40,600 gross square feet
Number of Stories above ground: 2
Size of Existing Mansion: 21,000 gross square feet
Number of Stories above ground: 3

Owner: Liberty Lutheran Services
Architect: SFCS, Inc.
CM/GC: Wohlsen Construction Company
Structural Engineer: Fitzpatrick Engineering Group, PLLC
Site/Civil Engineer: Site Engineering Concepts, LLC

-- Construction/Building Systems Information --

Construction Start: November, 2012
Construction Completion: December, 2013
Cost Information: Total projected cost: $14.6 Million
Project Delivery Method: Design-Bid-Build*
          *MEP Systems were Design-Build


Liberty Lutheran Logo - Provided by Liberty Lutheran

Visit The Mary J. Drexel Webpage



Building Statistics Part I

-- Architecture --

The Mary J. Drexel Home Assisted Living Addition project is located just outside of Philadelphia, PA owned and operated by Liberty Lutheran Services. The campus consists of a three-story Mansion that was constructed in 1878 and has been providing senior-care center and nursing home services since. However these services were suspended in mid-2008, pending renovation and new construction.

The historic Mansion is receiving new attached two-story east and west wings that will serve as the Assisted Living residence. Each two-story wing consists of two separate “households” with each household serving 20 residents for a total Assisted Living resident population of 80 residents. The existing historic Mansion will be used as the focal point for Liberty Lutheran Services marketing and business aspects as well as a connection between the new wings.

-- Major National Model Codes --

  • 2009 International Building Code
  • Lower Merion Fire Prevention Code
  • 2009 International Mechanical Code
  • 2009 International Plumbing Code
  • 2008 National Electric Code
  • 2009 Energy Conservation Code
  • 2003 ICC / ANSI A117.A American National Standard for Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities
  • Pennsylvania Assisted Living Regulations
  • 2004 Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibilities Guidelines (ADAAG)
  • 2006 Guidelines for Design & Construction of Health Care Facilities

-- Zoning --
Lower Merion Township

Ordinance Item: R-3
Minimum Lot Area: 10,000 Sq. Ft.
Minimum Lot Width: 70 Ft.
Minimum Setbacks:
                Front: 40 Ft.
                Side (Single Family Detached Dwelling): 10 Ft.  Min/30 Ft. Agg.
                Side (All other users): 20 Ft.
                Rear: 25 Ft.
Maximum Building Height: 35 Ft.
Maximum Building Coverage: 20%
Maximum Impervious Coverage: 28%

-- Historical Requirements --

Before the design was completed The Lower Merion Township Historical Commission and Architects met on several occasions discussing the design intent, materials, colors, relationship to the Mansion, etc. The Historical Commission was involved to insure the new additions were compatible with the existing Mansion. Some requirements listed by the Historical Commission included:

  • The eave of the additions had to be lower than the eave of the Mansion by at least a foot so that the Mansion appeared to be more prominent.
  • The window shutters had to be historically correct (raised panels on the lower floor & louvered on the upper floor) & had to be half the width of the window opening so that they looked like they would close off the opening but the shutters did not have to actually function.
  • EIFS was not acceptable as a façade and was required to be changed to stucco.
  • The downspouts and downspouts had to be round as rectangular was not acceptable.

-- Building Façade --

The basis of design for this project is to provide the residents with a more residential home aesthetic environment than the traditional institutional nursing environment. The major components of the building enclosure include stucco and stone veneer as the inspiration is taken from the existing Mansion.  The stucco and stone veneer enclosure consist of stucco/stone veneer, tyvek commercial wrap air barrier, gypsum sheathing, steel stud ‘Infinity’ wall system, and unfaced batt insulation. See Figure 1 for typical façade detail.

-- Roofing --

The new wings utilize two simple roofing systems. The perimeter of each wing utilizes a sloped roof with architectural fiberglass shingles while the center of each building utilizes a flat roof with a parapet wall. The flat roof portion consists of flexible sheet membrane (EPDM Roofing Membrane) laid over on tapered rigid insulation boards that are mechanically fastened to the metal roof deck. See Figure 2 and 3 for roof layout plan and typical roof detail.



Figure 1
– Detail provided by SFCS, Inc.

Figure 2
– West Wing Roof Plan provided by SFCS, Inc.


Figure 3
– Typical Roof Detail for sloped & flat roof provided by SFCS, Inc.

-- Sustainability Features --

The Mary J. Drexel Home Assisted Living Addition is not seeking to achieve any LEED certification or points.


Building Statistics Part II

-- Demolition --

When purchased in 2008 the campus consisted of a three-story mansion constructed in 1878. It will continue to be used for various organized events. There was a single story Nursing Home and existing Cottage that were not in use that are being demolished so the new East and West Wing additions can be built in its place. An existing barn will remain to be used as storage for both construction and post-construction purposes.

-- Structural --

The main super structure of the project consists of load-bearing metal stud wall panels known as “The Infinity Structural System” as seen in Figure 4. This system is ideal for mid-rise residential projects such as Apartments, Condos, Lofts, Student Housing, Hotels and Senior Living Facilities up to seven or eight stories in height.

Figure 4 – Infinity Panels, photo by Gjon Tomaj

Other aspects of the superstructure include structural steel columns and beams for areas requiring larger spans such as the middle common areas of each wing for the foyer, community living area, dining area and activity kitchen. Floors are composed of 4” normal weight concrete floor slabs on composite metal decking supported by the wall panels and wide flange beams. The basement walls, elevator shafts and stair towers are all constructed using reinforced load-bearing CMU walls varying with 8” and 12” thicknesses.

-- Mechanical System--

The Mary J. Drexel Project utilizes a Variable Refrigerant Flow System (VRF) mechanical system. This contains two 30 ton outdoor Rooftop Air Handling condensing units and one 13 ton Rooftop Air Handling Unit. Each of the 30 ton units supplies 6,200 CFM while the 13 ton unit supplies 2,870 CFM. Throughout the two wings, the Rooftop Air Handling Units are connected to multiple indoor fan coil units, each individually controllable by each resident unit. This segmentation of the distribution system allows greater comfort control of each individual resident unit as it is capable of cooling some spaces while heating others. A benefit of this system is that it allows for an increase in useable floor space by removing mechanical equipment from inside the main building areas and only needing vertical mechanical shafts where necessary.

-- Fire Protection --

In order to provide adequate fire protection for both buildings, a 100% coverage wet-pipe sprinkler system is being used. The system is designed, installed and tested in accordance with NFPA 13 and Lower Merion Township code.

-- Electrical System --

The electrical system requires a demand service of 384 kVA.  It is supplied via a utility transformer feed that travels to a 3000A 208/120V 3 Phase-4 wire main distribution panel. The MDP is then split into six different feeds;

          - 100A feed services the existing barn
          - 400A feed services the existing Mansion basement MDP
          - 1200A feed services the new East Wing addition
          - 1200A feed services the new West Wing addition
          - 600A & 100A feeds service miscellaneous equipment such as automatic transfer switches and the emergency generator

All of the panel boards that are supplied via the 3000A distribution panel are rated at 208/120 volts. The only redundancy system within the electrical systems of this project includes a 200 kW Natural Gas Emergency Generator. This generator ties directly into the main service feed to the building and can be used for the existing Mansion, new additions, and even the existing storage barn.

-- Elevators --

There are two elevators in each of the wings for a total of four. Each wing has an elevator next to the vestibule entrance for quick access to the second level. Another elevator located near the kitchen of the existing mansion is the service elevator that allows access to food storage basement.

-- Telecommunications--

Being an assited living facility, The Mary J. Drexel integrated a wandering resident alarm system along with Personal Emergency Response System (PERS). Other basic systems included are video surveillance, audio-video (AV) and door monitoring systems.

Note: While great efforts have been taken to provide accurate and complete information on the pages of CPEP, please be aware that the information contained herewith is considered a work-in-progress for this thesis project. Modifications and changes related to the original building designs and construction methodologies for this senior thesis project are solely the interpretation of Gjon Tomaj. Changes and discrepancies in no way imply that the original design contained errors or was flawed. Differing assumptions, code references, requirements, and methodologies have been incorporated into this thesis project; therefore, investigation results may vary from the original design.
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This page was last updated on October 23, 2013 by Gjon Tomaj and is hosted by the AE Department ©2013