The Virginian Hotel, built in 1913, is the gem of downtown Lynchburg, Virginia. Formerly known as “The Grand Hotel of Downtown Lynchburg,” the property is distinguished by 30-foot vaulted ceilings, curved skylights, arched windows and the elaborate ornamentation of its Beaux-Arts architectural style. After the hotel closed in the 1960s, the building served as a dormitory for Liberty University’s students from 1972 to 1982. In 1983, the upper floors of the property were repurposed for low-income housing. When the property went up for sale in 2014, developer George Stanley and his team at Cityscape, LLC decided to return the building back to its hotel roots. Now complete, this 114,000-square-foot hotel features 115 guest rooms, 10,000-square-feet of conference and banquet space, a ballroom and several dining options including a rooftop restaurant, coffee shop and steakhouse.
With multiple functions for the space, a flexible HVAC system was key. The project team’s choice: Mitsubishi Electric Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) technology. We talked with George Stanley, owner, The Virginian Hotel, and Melinda Ruble, mechanical engineer, MDR Engineering, about the development and why Mitsubishi Electric CITY MULTI® was the right selection for this project.
George Stanley, owner, Cityscape, LLC; owner, The Virginian
What is the concept of this hotel?
“When we first explored the building, we knew it had potential. This hotel blends the historic aesthetic with modern amenities. It’s also part of Hilton’s Curio Collection, which is their soft brand. They handle operations but we are our own unique brand.”
Why VRF technology?
“VRF is an extremely efficient system in how the units play off one another. One is heating and one is cooling – there’s an efficiency there. You don’t pay for the connection twice. We also didn’t have a lot of ceiling space for piping. Mitsubishi Electric has a two-pipe system versus other market competitors that use three pipes. This feature was critical to the job. Having never used Mitsubishi Electric previously, I would absolutely use them again.”
Melinda Ruble, owner/engineer, MDR Engineering
Apparently, the project team was torn between a traditional chiller/boiler four-pipe system and a VRF system before they made their final HVAC decision. What tipped the scale?
“There were a lot of historical constraints with this job — one of which involved maintaining ceiling heights to preserve the historic nature of the building. To have chilled water and heated water running through piping on a building this size was going to be difficult. In my opinion, this naturally needed to be a Mitsubishi Electric VRF system.”
Why is VRF technology an efficient choice for hospitality settings?
“In a hotel, there are large areas that potentially are going to be unused at any time. It is unlikely to have all guest rooms booked 100 percent of the time. With VRF, you optimize energy sharing. If you have one space that requires heating and another cooling, you can have simultaneous conditioning that allows you to conserve energy and save money. You also get the zoning. As a crowd moves within a space, the load shifts. The system picks that up and allows the building to meet the conditioning demands.”
To learn more about The Virginian project, watch our Video Case Study here.