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Dr Ochsner Health Science Academy

Ochsner Academy


Shrewsbury Rd, Jefferson, LA


Climate control kit on the roof and withstanding 150 MPH winds.

Big Foot

Plant Deck

The Dr John Ochsner Discovery Health Sciences Academy is a new 90,000 sq ft tuition-free charter school in Jefferson, Louisiana. This $28 million development, built and opened during the Coronavirus pandemic, opened its doors to welcome students from pre-kindergarten age to eighth grade in September 2021. This state-of-the-art science school has 25 classrooms, five learning centre rooms, two science labs, two science classrooms, a computer lab, library, and a commons area with student dining facilities. There’s also a teaching kitchen, which will use an on-campus garden for "farm to table activities," where students learn to harvest and then create recipes.

Jim Henry, Mechanical Engineer at YKMH Consulting, contracted to work on this project, needed a frame that would not only hold all the climate control rooftop units, easily accommodate the myriad of copper runs, and provide ready access for maintenance work, it would also have to withstand the high winds associated with this part of the country. The Big Foot Plant Deck Frame was the only non-penetrative frame for this ambitious build thanks to its unique suite of benefits: it’s designed to facilitate multiple VRF/VRV installations with access requirements or restrictions; it reduces the amount of pipe chases needed per project; it has a one-metre-wide non-slip GRP access walkway along the frame centre; the frames are fast and easy to install (as they’re constructed off site); there are three standard sizes from stock, but the frames can be custom made to suit all applications and their wide bases make them highly stable in high-wind locations, a design consideration where tall units are involved and its non-penetrative load management is a ‘must’ in the New Orleans’ climate where perforations in the roof membrane often develop leaks.

Two Plant Deck frames were custom built, each supporting four units, a mix of  Daikin VRVs and Mitsubishi VRFs and splits and, on August 29th, 2021, when Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana, they easily withstood windspeeds of up to 150 mph without any need for tethering or additional support.

Contractor Gibbs Construction, the General Contractor, received an ‘Excellence in Construction’ award for their work on the school, from the Associated Builders and Contractors New Orleans/Bayou Chapter in 2021.

Commenting on Big Foot Plant Deck, the Mechanical Engineer that designed the Project said:

I was surprised that our VRV with Big Foot Plant Deck system sustained no damage during Hurricane Ida and kept all piping in place. There were many instances of rooftop equipment sustaining damage from eight hours of high winds but no problems with the Big Foot System.

Jim Henry

Mechanical Engineer and Project Designer

Dr John Ochsner Discovery Health Sciences Academy 1
Dr John Ochsner Discovery Health Sciences Academy 2
Dr John Ochsner Discovery Health Sciences Academy 3
Dr John Ochsner Discovery Health Sciences Academy 4
Dr John Ochsner Discovery Health Sciences Academy 5

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