Allen Memorial Art Museum

Oberlin College – Oberlin, Ohio

Project Background

The collection of the Allen Memorial Art Museum is housed in a historic structure dating back to 1917. The current HVAC systems were woefully incapable of maintaining stable climate control in this museum environment.

McClure Engineering was called upon to upgrade HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems that operate with minimal energy usage while preserving the original, historic architecture.

Project Deliverables


Crawl spaces beneath the existing building were excavated for installation of new mechanical and electrical infrastructure. Existing vertical ductwork was re-used where possible, to minimize impact on the actual museum gallery spaces. A new heating and cooling plant was developed to be housed in the newly excavated basement, permitting availability of four season heating and cooling for effective humidity control. A centralized heat pump system was designed to produce both the chilled water and low-temperature utility heating water for the facility – effectively using the waste heat from the chiller to serve as the building’s primary heating source.

This heat pump system was coupled with a small geothermal well field to increase efficiency as excess seasonal heating and cooling energy could be stored for later use by the building. The building’s heating and cooling systems were coupled to the campus steam and chilled water systems to provide a secondary source for these utilities.

The HVAC systems serving the individual gallery and support spaces are supplied from a series of smaller, single zone air handling units. Ventilation is supplied from a dedicated outdoor air make-up unit, providing the primary humidity control through the use of desiccant wheel dehumidifier and steam humidification coil. By providing humidity control at the ventilation unit, remaining units are no longer required to overcool and re-heat the air – a common, inefficient scenario in museum installations. This building uses approximately 30% less energy than comparable museum environments.

Architect Of Record

Samuel Anderson Architects

Construction Cost




Market Sector

College & University & Cultural Institutions

Year Completed



LEED Certified GOLD

Our Services
McClure Mechanical services
McClure Electrical services
McClure Plumbing services

Keith Esarey, P.E.