Reviving Downtown Tulsa Includes Loft Living
Over the last several years, Tulsa city leaders have made a pledge to revive a sluggish downtown by providing new dining and entertainment venues along with affordable city living. The Robinson Packer Lofts is a result of this city life commitment and includes a mix of stores on the first level and lofts on the second and third floors.
Palmer Mechanical Service and Project Manager Todd Ringgold was in charge of the plumbing installation for Robinson Packer Lofts, and he used the project as a training tool for new employees who had not previously installed PEX.
“Using PEX in plumbing instead of copper has so many advantages, including speed of installation,” he said. “New employees who had not worked with PEX before were amazed how much quicker the installation went and how easy it was to make each connection.”
Palmer Mechanical has been working with PEX almost exclusively since 2007 when they merged with Pace Mechanical. “We use PEX for all our design build jobs,” he said. “Sometimes we need to educate engineers about the cost benefits of using PEX over other products. When we work directly with developers in our own design builds, they are pleased with the savings we are able to bring to their projects.”
Ringgold says his company also uses competitive products such as copper, but that their preference is always to use PEX whenever possible. “PEX allows us to use a quality product without the risk of fire from a torch,” he says. “The expansion tool simply expands the pipe and we quickly move on to the next connection. But with copper you run the risk of fire simply by the nature of how the joint comes together.” In fact, the Robinson Packer Lofts was built in the 1920s with a solid wood framing, and using PEX was the safest and fastest choice, according to Ringgold.
And though Robinson Packer Lofts was a small project, it was an important one for Ringgold. “This project offered a great training opportunity for our company and it was a historical building which adds several intricate elements,” he said.
One of their biggest challenges was that the first floor is occupied by retailers, yet the second floor needed to be piped between the floor joists and the ceilings of the first floor. “We were able to do this while the shops remained open, which is always a little tricky during the installation process,” Ringgold said.
The installation went quickly, and Palmer Mechanical was pleased with the smooth process. This was a design build job, and part of the design was completed in the field during the installation.
“The engineer has worked with us before, and has a lot of trust in us,” Ringgold said. “We used 2" Uponor AquaPEX® for the main line and 1½" PEX pipes for each floor for the water distribution,” Ringgold said. They also used Uponor ProPEX® fittings and supports to complete the plumbing installation, ensuring that the system will work for many years to come.
• 1920s Historical Building, Tulsa
• Mixed-use project – retail and loft living
• Uponor PEX-a Plumbing System
• Installing contractor: Palmer Mechanical, Tulsa
• 2" and 1½" Uponor AquaPEX® Pipe
• ProPEX® Engineered Polymer (EP) Fittings