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New chiller fires up at downtown Fresno’s Patterson Building

Cooling tower is lifted to the lower landing of the T.W. Patterson Building on June 11.
Cooling tower is lifted to the lower landing of the T.W. Patterson Building on June 11.

A new chiller system was fired up at the T.W. Patterson Building in downtown Fresno over the weekend.

The 460-volt Turbo Core McQuay Chiller and Marley cooling tower is an environmentally friendly and pricey upgrade to the building’s decades old air conditioning system which “imploded” last year, said building owner Rick Roush of Roush Investment Group.

The 92-year-old, brick building with eight floors, on the Fulton Mall along Tulare Street, has been operating on a temporary chiller — its second — since then. You might have noticed the box-like contraption humming in the alley.

The Patterson Building was the first building in the country to have an air conditioning system installed in 1926 by the Carrier Corporation. Roush, who has owned the building since 1994, upgraded the system once.

He could have repaired the massive unit for $125,000, but decided to go an extra step amid the fourth year of drought. The new chiller, installed by New England Sheet Metal, a family-owned and operated metal working company in Fresno, operates much like a car radiator, said Wayne Wimer, the building superintendent.

The system cools water that moves through pipes in the building to 45 degrees which helps the building cool down. The water is reused instead of draining into a well under the building

“We push warm air out and pull cool air in,” Wimer said.

A 17-foot-tall cooling tower was hoisted to the lower landing of the building on June 11 and workers have been connecting large pipes through the building for six weeks, Wimer said. About 275 feet of pipes connect the chiller and cooling tower.

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