University of Rochester Repurposes Vacant Facility

Project Profile

The University of Rochester is one of the world’s leading research universities, with over 3,000 faculty, 12,000 students, and 30,000 staff. The University, founded in 1850 and located in Western New York, prides itself on its mission to “Learn, Discover, Heal, Create – and Make the World Ever Better.”

The University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) is a private, coeducational, nonsectarian, and nonprofit research facility with about 30,000 people dedicated to scientific research. In early 2020, after a Sears department store within the Marketplace Mall in Rochester, NY, closed, the University purchased the roughly 330,000 sq. ft campus to build one of the largest and most comprehensive ambulatory orthopedics facilities in the United States. The new facility will consist of procedure rooms, patient rooms, offices, and minor operating rooms.

The project is estimated for completion in Fall 2022 and is the largest capital project in the University of Rochester’s history. The facility will combine ambulatory surgery with other essential services in one convenient spot. The University chose this location because it is centrally located and easily accessible from major highways and public transportation.

Customer Challenge

Renovating the former Sears building has benefits, including the essential infrastructure already in place for the building shell. However, retrofitting work presents challenges as well. For instance, because the building already has an established framework, our Equipment team needed to work with the engineers to custom design air handling units to fit within the current structures. Balancing lead times of the equipment also required continuous communication between the construction team to schedule and budget workloads accordingly.

Stark Tech Solution

Stark Tech worked with the engineer and contractor on the project to provide custom air handling units by Air Enterprises for the facility. These units are all aluminum construction with extremely low leakage – below 0.5% – significantly increasing energy efficiency. This is because the AHU fans don’t have to overcompensate for the loss of airflow. These units typically last around 40-50 years.

Having strong relationships with our manufacturers was key for scheduling this project. Both communication and flexibility led to a successful installation and start up. Along with that, our Service team was available to assist with the rigs and pull together of the AHUs. They performed the pressure tests and handled the factory trained start-ups.

The Technology

  • Nine Air Enterprises Air Handling Units
  • Vertiv: Liebert Computer Room Cooling Units
  • DriSteem Humidification Grids
  • Yaskawa Variable Frequency Drives


  • Owner: University of Rochester
  • Engineer: M/E Engineering Rochester
  • General Contractor: LeChase Construction
  • Mechanical Contractor: Crosby Brownlie
  • Electrical Contractor: Billitier

Stay informed on our latest industry insights, products & services, and career opportunities. Follow us on LinkedIn and subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay connected!