The revolutionary new Hamburger department store (1908)

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Put great city under one roof

Hamburger’s building is finest in west

System of hygienics presented hard problems

Heating and ventilation systems embrace wonderfully efficient but complex features – How structure is regulated

Los Angeles’ latest milestone in its marvelous progress is soon to be completed. It will be dedicated in the near future to one of the greatest tides of its commercial life, and that it will prove the mightiest mercantile monument in the west stands undisputed.

The new Hamburger department store is to be a city in itself, a veritable human beehive, with all the complexity of detail characterizing a busy city, save that it will be a metropolis in miniature, though not so diminutive as might be imagined, for it will epitomize many great features never before attempted outside of the world’s four leading cities. It will enjoy not only the distinction of being by far the largest department store in the west, but it will embody what are declared the most wonderful and complete systems of heating and ventilating known to modern science.

Every of air that enters the big Hamburger store will be actually washed in water before it reaches the great fans installed to distribute it.

The centrifugal ventilating fans will draw the air from a high altitude, through a specially constructed tower house on the roof, and distribute it, purified and humidified to the ducts and plenums. These fans are driven by powerful electric motors. The building will contain big banks of Sturtvant pipe-radiation, built into batteries of heating coils, so that the air may be directed and tempered according to weather and demand.

Has many thermostats

Each portion of the big building is equipped with a national thermostat and other devices forming an automatic control for the air. Between the coilings and floors the space is hermetically sealed and made into a plenum, or pressure chamber, so arranged in their connection with the distributing system that drafts are absolutely impossible. If every door and window is closed the building is kept full of pure, fresh air at an even temperature.

The building is constructed absolutely dustproof. In addition to the ventilation there is a system of removing the vitiated air from the building as regularly and evenly as the fresh air is admitted.

The building will contain, aside from the Los Angeles library and merchandise, every facility for comfort which architects and the best sanitary scientists can conceive. In brief, the Hamburger department store building is absolutely unique, not only as a completed unit but in many of its parts.

The system of heating and ventilating is a modification of the well-known Sturtevant pressure plenum system, as applied to public buildings and auditoriums.

The application of such a system, however, to a department store building of this magnitude involved many difficult problems in engineering.

The usual method of heating buildings of this type is by the use of steam coils or radiators placed at various parts of the building, so as to render heat sufficient to warm the adjacent air by direct radiation.

This method of heating does furnish any ventilation and except such ventilation as may happen by reason of door and windows being open the same volume of air in the building will be reheated and reused by the occupants even after it has been badly vitiated.


Old method faulty

In addition to that the only air supplied to the building over the usual method of heating is such as comes in to the building through doors and windows by natural means due to the prevailing winds and difference of temperature. This method has not only grave disadvantages as to health and comfort to the occupants of the buildings, but it also permits of the ingress of large quantities of dust and other impurities which not only injure the air for breathing purposes but injures the fabrics and goods displayed in the store as well.

It has been the aim of the Hamburger company, it is said, to provide not only a store that would be unique, but one that would offer superior advantages to its patrons as well as enable them to offer and display their merchandise in a superior manner, all of these conditions being met and largely augmented by the use of the modern system of heating and ventilation which is being installed in this store building. A brief description of this system will make these claims readily apparent.

The mechanism of the heating and ventilating system is located in the attic and on the roof of the immense building and consists in general of the following:

First: An air washer, whose purpose is to thoroughly wash and purify the air that is drawn into the building before it reaches the immense fans that are to force it to every portion of the structure.

Second: There are a number of immense centrifugal ventilating fans that draw the air in from the altitude of the roof through the air washer and then deliver the purified and humidified air to the distribution system of ducts and plenums.

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Are driven by motors

These fans each are driven by speedy electric motors so arranged that they can be varied in speed to suit the varying conditions of demand.

Third: There are great banks of Sturtevant pipe radiation built in to batteries of heating coils and arranged so that the air from the fans may be driven either through the coils and heated by contact with the pipe coils or it may be bypassed around the coils and delivered to the distributing system cooled and humidified by its passage through the air washers.

Fourth: Each portion of the building is controlled by the thermostat and the various devices constituting a system of automatic control so that these different volumes of warm air and cool air may be mixed and tempered so as to produce a mixture of the proper temperature to maintain a fixed hygienic temperature in each portion of the building, the greatest permissible variation in temperature at any named location, being five degrees F.

Fifth: Through the building each space between ceiling and floor, constituting the hermetically sealed air plenum, is connected with the air supply and the regulating system so that a constant volume of fresh, pure air of a predetermined temperature will be constantly supplied to each one of these pressure chambers.

Chambers are perforated

Sixth: The pressure chambers located in the ceiling of each floor are perforated by numerous openings covered with suitable ornamental screens and arranged so that the air will be distributed uniformly over the entire space of each floor and the velocity and rate of flow can be reduced and controlled so as to absolutely prevent drafts and make the flow of the air imperceptible to the most sensitive person.

Seventh: The operation of the system is such that when all of the doors and windows are kept closed as they would be normally, the building itself will be full of fresh, pure air, which will be delivered and maintained under a slight pressure so that in case a door or a window is opened the tendency of the air supply will be to rush outward to the lower air pressure outside. This air pressure carried within the building effectually prevents inflowing drafts from the street, carrying dust and sand and thus prevents the injury to fabrics and merchandise which is naturally resulting from this source in other buildings.

In addition to that all the air that is supplied for use in the room is taken from the altitude of the top of the building and is washed and cooled or heated as the season of the air demands before it is delivered to the occupants.

System of vents

Eighth: In addition to the means for supplying the air there is a system of vents and vent fans by which the vitiated air is drawn away at the floor line of the various floors and is finally delivered outside of the building through the vent stacks and vent outlets.

In addition to the ventilating system for the entire building there are several separate systems for various special purposes, among which is the special ventilating system for the restaurant and kitchen, also a special ventilating system for the auditorium building.

There is also a separate high pressure suction ventilating system connected with each toilet room in the building, and even away down in the engine room and boiler room there is a bountiful supply of fresh, cool air supplied to the workmen located there, so that these usually uncomfortable rooms will be entirely habitable and really comfortable.

This system was designed by and is now being installed by the Machinery and Electrical company, heating and ventilating engineers, located at 351-353 North Main Street, Los Angeles, who already enjoy a flattering reputation of successful installations of this type of apparatus, although this is the largest single installation that they have ever undertaken.

System no experiment

The system, however, involves nothing experimental except its size, but the large area to be covered and the large volumes of air to be handled introduced a number of difficult problems to solve.

Some idea of the size of the plant may be gained by stating that the volume to be heated and ventilated is practically equivalent to a space of four blocks long and the usual depth of buildings on Broadway covered with a building twenty feet high.

In addition to this space it is necessary to deliver approximately 200,000 cubic feet of fresh, pure air each minute that the plant is in operation, and the power required to do the work when the plant is in full operation is approximately 100 horsepower.

This is one among many of the features in the great Hamburger department store, and the public may feel assured it is absolutely unique and will contribute very much indeed to the comfort and enjoyment of the friends patronizing this great enterprise.

Second image from the Los Angeles Herald, May 13 1906

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