By David Atwood, General Manager at Integrated Interiors

 Integrated Interiors_Haworth UFAD_v1

Raised flooring and underfloor air applications have quickly risen in popularity with the new demands of sustainable construction.  With benefits tied into both its efficiency and reduced materials requirements, modular construction of underfloor air applications will become a key differentiator for any general contractors familiar with the benefits and the challenges of installing raised flooring systems.


Start at the Top


Perhaps the most unorthodox part of any raised floor system is the sequencing of the various trades.  Contrary to conventional installations where HVAC systems are contained in ductwork above the ceiling, raised floor systems are designed to incorporate most major building systems within the confines of the floor cavity.  Therefore, what remains in the ceiling – sprinklers and lighting systems – needs to be completed first, as well any other overhead work, to ensure floor installation and the sensitive systems within can be installed without any interruption or risk of damage.


In addition, when critical building systems are located underfoot, and bringing staging, lifts and other equipment for ceiling installation would only serve to complicate the installation of the floor.  The most effective way to manage floor construction is to phase the various trades effectively, starting with fire protection and lighting systems to ensure all overhead work is completed first.  By educating the subcontractors and providing a clear understanding of what phase each trade will be involved with, general contractors can capitalize on the efficiency of raised floor systems.


Keep the Airways Clear


One of the biggest advantages to underfloor air applications is a reduction of approximately 80% of the ductwork found in conventional projects with standard flooring.  With the floor containing air distribution chambers, it’s critical to ensure that all subcontractors know to keep the area beneath their feet as clean as possible.  When overhead work is completed, work with the electrical and mechanical trades should begin to configure the building’s power distribution systems and HVAC passageways.


It’s important to note, however, that the floor is laid out in a grid formation, utilizing a 10×10 spray-painted dot grid throughout the entire floorplate.  These dots identify locations where the pedestals are located, which are components that support the load of the floor and cannot be altered.  Lack of coordination between trades can lead to installation of piping, electrical systems and cabling in places that conflict with pedestals and can only be rectified by building a structural support to sidestep the interference, leading to delays and additional costs.  Given the relative newness of raised flooring systems, education of the trades is critical to avoid costly missteps.


In order to maintain the integrity of the airways, walls surrounding the underfloor chambers need to be sealed as tightly as possible, allowing for zero penetrations in the design.  As the underfloor cavity acts as a delivery plenum, any gaps or openings can lead to expensive and frustrating air loss.  Teams should also understand that any drywall verticals, whether columns or walls that extend down into the floor, are also critical to the air delivery system and should be carefully integrated into the flooring systems and properly sealed at the slab.


Following the Order of Operations


In one of the most critical phases of any raised floor installations, mechanical, electrical and flooring trades must work together to ensure each system is properly routed up from the slab and through pre-drilled openings in the floor panel.  A few additional steps have to happen first, however, before the raised floor is installed.  Raised flooring uses a modular power system, with zoned distribution boxes and power cabling mounted in the slab and data lines contained in cable trays alongside the utilities.  Once floor installation begins, all remaining materials are staged above the raised flooring to effectively float over the power and data equipment and avoid working directly on top of cabling.


Next, mechanical trades must be brought on board to lay out mechanical boxes and diffusers.  Diffusers are brought up and installed within the floor, and power and data cabling are guided through pre-cut openings in the floor panel.  Prior to purchasing materials, teams should outline exactly how the floor panel will accommodate the project’s power and data systems in order to secure a panel design with the proper penetrations already made.  Most raised floor systems use standard 2×2 panels with cutouts according to the specific project needs.


Once all systems have been tied in and tested, carpet installation begins.  Installing carpet in individual rooms is incredibly streamlined over conventional approaches, as carpet consists of individual modules matched to an access floor panel.  This means no more tedious cutting and measuring each section as the entire floor is essentially installed in one piece and must be done prior to any walls being constructed within a conventional modular interior.


Even in the final phase constant reinforcement of the basic principles of raised flooring must be emphasized among the trades, including that any subsequent penetrations in the drywall should be sealed at the slab level to preserve the integrity of the systems below the surface.  However, with a proactive approach to educating the team and a coordinated approach to installing building systems, general contractors can offer clients increased flexibility and enhanced sustainability for a wide range of applications.


About the Author

  David Atwood_Integrated Interiors_Sm_Frank Monkiewicz Photog

David Atwood is the General Manager of Integrated Interiors, New England’s premier commercial architectural/engineering products and construction services company. Integrated Interiors provides architectural interiors products including moveable walls, raised flooring, and modular power, as well as design-build construction services for mission critical or data center environments. The company is the region’s only source for the integrated procurement and installation of modular architectural products through a single manufacturer – Haworth. Combined with Haworth’s Organic Workspace™ products, Integrated Interiors’ modular solutions provide flexible, high performance workspace that adapts to companies’ changing needs while meeting the growing demand for sustainable and LEED-supportive design.  For more information, go to

Photo:              David Atwood, General Manager at Integrated Interiors

Photo credit:    Frank Monkiewicz Photography

Photos:             UFAD

Photo credit: Haworth

A Professional Look At Speed Dating

by Andrew Verderame on October 8, 2014

in Education, Events, FM, Professional Development


As many of you might have heard, the IFMA Boston Chapter put on a successful Speed Networking Event on Thursday night at the beautiful Haworth Showroom at 125 High Street in Boston. The venue was well selected, with comfortable and spacious seating suited for a more concentrated networking event. Led by Jim Andrews and Shane Savoie, the Emerging Leaders Network of IFMA Boston set up the evening well, with a similar arrangement to that of a speed dating event. Along with a nice view of downtown Boston, there was a great selection of hors d’oeuvres and drinks to keep the night going.

A diverse collection of members and new-comers were attending the event, along with a few of the hosting Haworth Company’s very own employees. The total group size was a comfortable fit for the showroom and created an intimate environment to make everyone feel welcomed. The setting was organized where half of the attendee’s stayed seated, while the other half played musical chairs in between sessions. Each session was one-on-one with someone new, and was as formal or informal as you made it—hence the feeling of a more casual and professional speed dating experience.

What was so great about the Speed Networking Event was that it allowed attendees to meet numerous professionals in small range of time and in structured format. Many of us love to network at IFMA and other related events, but never have an opportunity to get to know many of the people there. Moreover, it can be difficult to introduce yourself to new people without a means to start conversation. With this in mind, the Speed Networking Event was a great opportunity to automatically have an introduction with a vast amount of facility professionals. I would highly recommend anyone to attend events like these in the future. Even if your priority is not expanding your network, it is a great way to spend a fun evening and share your experiences with new individual.

Wayne Gretzky said: “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” so I would encourage everyone at taking a shot to network on a level like this—only then may you finally score one of your professional goals.


A fresh, new look with the same strong reputation

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As many of you  prepare to descend upon New Orleans for World Workplace 2014, you may have noticed a visual shift in the brand identity of your local Boston Chapter of IFMA.  It’s true, IFMA Boston has officially begun transitioning its logo, and signs of this exciting change are popping up all over! Take our […]

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“If one is to be in real estate, commercial real estate is surely a nice place to live right now”

September 3, 2014

By: Bill Pastuszek, MAI, ASA, MRA , heads Shepherd Associates LLC, Newton, Mass. Several surveys by major brokerages contain statements such as, “Investors are once again proving that their confidence in commercial real estate remains steadfast… a majority of investors expect both core fundamentals and property values to continue to rise in the coming year. That positive […]

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A Warm Welcome Back from the IFMA Boston President

August 28, 2014

Welcome Back! Fall is my favorite time of year. It’s partly because of the great weather in the season and also because fall brings a sense of a fresh start. Children head back to school, college students return to the dorms and the whole region gets ready to get back to work. Whether you spent […]

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Can Less Be More?

August 24, 2014

By Joe Flynn, CFM, LEED AP, senior associate, workplace strategist, Margulies Perruzzi Architects Businesses are facing difficult choices to remain competitive, not the least of which include real estate decisions, for both the company and the individual employee. Today, companies are “rightsizing” in a very different manner. The intent is no longer to trim the […]

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Fox RPM Teams up with BIDMC to Improve Accessibility Across Campuses

August 20, 2014

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) is undergoing a series of updates to its campuses in order to enhance the user experience for patients, employees and visitors with varying degrees of disabilities. Comprised of a team of well-experienced facilities managers, the BIDMC campuses are undergoing a major face-lift as part of a five-year project, in […]

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Iron Mountain: Workspace Re-Envisioned

August 14, 2014

Iron Mountain: Workspace Re-Envisioned                                                 By Janet Morra, AIA, LEED AP, principal at Margulies Perruzzi Architects   When preparing to relocate its global headquarters from 745 Atlantic Avenue to One Federal Street in […]

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2014 Security Trends

August 7, 2014

End users continue to migrate away from legacy security systems towards technologies that enable them to be more proactive in mitigating their risks. As our IFMA Boston community witnessed first hand, last year’s investigation into the bombing at the Boston Marathon showed the potential waiting to be unlocked in using big data analytics to comb […]

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RDK’s Lean Journey

August 6, 2014

For the past few years, RDK Engineers has taken many steps to start incorporating Lean and its practices into our company. At its core, Lean is a philosophy that seeks to increase client value and eliminate unnecessary waste. By applying systems thinking, Lean organizations see the whole value stream of their operations and find ways […]

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