JE Dunn – University of Colorado Colorado Springs Ent Center for the Arts

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JE Dunn oversees construction of a one-of-a-kind art center that brings tremendous value to the University of Colorado Colorado Springs and its community. 

By Janice Hoppe

JE Dunn is working in partnership with the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) to construct a first-of-its-kind venue for the Visual and Performing Arts Department. The state-of-the-art UCCS Ent Center for the Arts will not only enhance the university, but the community as a whole.

“There are consultants and partners from across the country who are being brought together for this project,” Project Manager Matt Vineyard says. “It’s a significant project for the entire city. We have a local architect paired with a national architect based out of New York, JE Dunn as a national and local general contractor, and subcontractors who have a local presence and national experience.”

UCCS Ent Center for the Arts is the first phase of a complex that will ultimately provide consolidated space on campus for its Visual and Performing Arts Department. “The focus of this first phase is to bring together several of the programs so the department can eventually have a home for their programs all in on eplace,” UCCS Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Planning and Facilities Management Gary Reynolds says. “The first phase will house mostly performing arts programs within the department with four of the five spaces dedicated to performing arts and the fifth space for the visual arts.”

The art center will include a 750-seat theater, a black box theater for the local professional theater group  – TheatreWorks, a 250-seat recital hall, a smaller black box theater for UCCS’s academic theater and dance program, as well as a gallery of contemporary art. “We don’t have a 750-seat theater right now, so this will be the addition of a venue that does not currently exist,” Reynolds explains. “It will allow us to have performances that can accommodate that number of seats and also, we don’t have an intimate recital hall on campus. These are two new venues that don’t exist today and are key components to the continued success of our academic programs and to bringing the community’s visual and performing arts onto campus.”

“I think what is unique is that within the 92,000-square-foot building there are four performance venues,” Vineyard adds. “Typically in this square footage there would be two. We are combining multiple types of high-end performance spaces on campus, which creates challenges and great opportunities for the campus, the project and the city. This will be a tremendous performance complex.”

Building a Masterpiece

Construction began on the $60 million project in August 2015, but JE Dunn was brought in two years before that to assist with the planning and design. “We have been working for more than two years as the design progressed, providing pricing comparisons and finding solutions to come in under budget,” Vineyard notes. “Our role is to be a partner and not just in terms of pricing but also on the constructability side.”JE Dunn box

Stringent acoustical requirements for each space in the 92,000-square-foot UCCS Ent Center for the Arts required more than one year’s worth of planning and coordination among JE Dunn, project architects and the university. “We have been leading 3-D modeling coordination to determine the best way to get in the very large duct work and other services within the structure. The duct work is purposely large in spaces like this for low air flow and very little noise,” Vineyard explains. “We are working with the design team and key subcontractors to finalize the design to those systems to meet performance and acoustical requirements.”

Competitive bidding for foundation work was done early in the project so JE Dunn could secure key subcontractors for the masonry, steel, mechanical and electrical work. “Having subcontractors on the project and assisting in the final coordination of the design was key,” Vineyard says. “We are in the last two weeks of getting footings and the foundation in place, the masonry is in progress and structural steel fabrication is in process.”

JE Dunn worked with UCCS and the design team to establish a number of preferred, qualified subcontractors because they would become an integral part of the design process. “They have expertise in this type of work and can provide real input and be a core part of the team,” Vineyard says.

Intense Coordination

One of the main challenges to the construction of the UCCS Ent Center for the Arts is the acoustical requirements, which Vineyard says JE Dunn was aware of and prepared for. “There is very large duct work, lots of conduit for AV systems and the conduit has to be separated by a minimum distance from the electrical systems and coordinated within the structure,” he explains. “All penetrations into the venues must be acoustically sealed and treated.”

JE Dunn anticipates that it will have spent a total of six months’ worth of time on acoustical coordination by the end of the project. The team meets at least once a week with updated 3-D modeling plans to ensure everything is installed in the right place. “Much of the work will be prefabricated offsite based on drawings and lifted right into place,” Vineyard says.

As the company moves into the next phase of the project, Vineyard expects to peak out in late 2016 and early 2017 with 300 people on-site. “The next piece is the intense coordination with theatrical equipment,” he says. “Although we haven’t awarded that yet, we are working with key partners that do work on national and international theater projects to make sure the coordination is right and will result in high-end performance spaces.”

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