NoMad Los Angeles (NoMad LA) is a stunner. Situated in the heart of downtown, the hotel’s ownership, Sydell Group, purchased the historic Bank of Italy building at Giannini Place with the hopes of bringing the booming success of their original New York City location to LA.
“Our bread and butter is to go into these primary markets and find buildings that are unique and architecturally significant,” said Ryan Bean, director of development, Sydell Group. “We’ve been successful at developing them.”
Built in the 1920s, the 14-story hotel features 241 guest rooms, original, gold-leaf, hand-painted ceilings above the former banking hall turned lobby and several world-class dining venues from chef Daniel Humm and restaurateur Will Guidara. With lavish accommodations and amenities, the Sydell Group required top-of-the-line mechanical systems for the property. After consulting with the general contractor, R.D. Olson Construction, Inc., and mechanical contractor, Talent Air, the choice was clear for their HVAC selection: Mitsubishi Electric Cooling &; Heating CITY MULTI® Variable Refrigerant Flow systems.
Historic Buildings and VRF
Listed as a National Historic Landmark, there was a lot to consider in terms of heating and cooling. The HVAC subcontractor had to be careful not to alter the space too much. “With the NoMad building, we couldn’t make a lot of fenestrations to the exterior,” explained Jason Garry, senior project manager, Talent Air. “Using a VRF system eliminated the need for much economizer control.” Mitsubishi Electric’s two-pipe system design was also ideal for minimal building disturbance. “Other brands utilize a four-pipe system that’s constantly heating and cooling and requires so much more space than just the overhead ceiling,” said Bean. “Developing an existing building becomes much easier with VRF.”
In addition, the Sydell Group didn’t have room for a large HVAC system. CITY MULTI’s compact design was of particular benefit. “Space constraints were a major factor for us. Many of the existing city properties we develop are built lot line to lot line,” explained Bean. “There’s no space to build a centralized plant that has cooling towers, boilers and chillers. VRF was ideal for us because we can put units on the roof that have a small footprint. We were able to add a pool, rooftop bar, restrooms and restaurant; having revenue-producing outlets up there is a great benefit.”
A Superior Support Network and Track Record
While the Sydell Group was sold on VRF technology, Mitsubishi Electric’s superior support network sold them on the brand. It was a joint effort between Talent Air and R.D. Olson to select Mitsubishi Electric for the building. “With a historical adaptive rehab project, you have to have technicians that know what they’re doing,” said Joseph G. Cervantes, senior executive vice president of operations, R.D. Olson. “We selected Mitsubishi Electric because of the support we received through their sales representatives and company technicians. Talent Air is also a Diamond Commercial Contractor® which provided the building with a quality extended warranty.”
Mitsubishi Electric’s Diamond Commercial Contractors are authorized technicians specialized in the brand’s equipment design, installation, start-up and maintenance. Partnering with a Diamond Commercial Contractor ensures a 10-year compressor and parts warranty.
The track record of the system also impressed Sydell Group. “We looked into Daikin and LG’s VRF offerings as well,” said Bean. “However, when we looked at the support offering and popularity within the hospitality market, Mitsubishi [Electric] had what we needed. Mitsubishi Electric equipment has been installed in many luxury market hotels. For example, its installation at the Resort at Pelican Hill in Orange County really got us comfortable with the system.”
Optimized HVAC and Controls
Ultimately, Talent Air installed R2-Series, Y-Series and S-Series systems using Ceiling-Concealed Ducted Indoor Units (PEFY) and Multi-Position Ducted Air Handlers (PVFY) throughout the hotel and six Ductless Indoor Units (PKFY) in their audio-visual rooms. The heating and cooling system is controlled through the AE-200A Centralized Controller.
The controller also integrates with Lutron, an energy management system that controls lighting and building climate. “We were able to tie the AE-200A in with the front desk control system, Lutron,” noted Garry. “We really appreciate the interoperability of the AE-200A to work with this system,” said Bean. “Lutron also connects with Oracle’s Opera, our property management system, and allows us to control room temperature individually. For example, when a guest checks out, their room temperature will automatically rise to 72 – 73 degrees and the lights will turn off, allowing us to save energy.”
Since NoMad LA’s doors officially opened in January 2018, it has had great success delivering a comfortable and luxurious atmosphere for guests. “Noise is a key factor in providing an elevated experience,” said Garry. “With the VRF system, there’s a smaller fan coil and you can install it higher up in the ceiling, compared to the conventional systems you normally see in hotels. The result is a very quiet HVAC system.”
A Top-Tier Guest Experience
“It’s funny because it’s so quiet that some of our guests think the heating and cooling system is not working at first because there’s no ‘kick on’ of the compressor or cold blast of air,” added Bean. “After five minutes, our guests realize it’s on when they realize the room is comfortable. The simplicity of the Mitsubishi Electric technology has been great for our guests.”
The technology has also helped NoMad LA meet the CalGreen Building Code, some of the highest energy compliance standards in the United States. “Our compliance with CalGreen is a huge feat given this is a large, historic building — with the way they’re built, historic buildings typically have a harder time meeting these types of efficiency standards,” noted Bean.
“It’s also a testament to the equipment,” added Cervantes. “The truth is, Mitsubishi Electric is a far superior product than its industry competitors. And to that point, we have not heard one single complaint from engineering or hotel management about the system. It’s working the way it’s designed.”