Turner Construction – Texas State University Events Center

Turner Construction Texas State UniversityTurner Construction oversees the construction of a $46 million addition to Texas State’s arena that will better accommodate commencement and athletics.

By Tim O’Connor

When construction firms use 3-D building modeling, the client benefits from better decision-making and more precise construction methods that lead to lower costs. The post-project uses for an electronic model are rarely considered. But Texas State University has a plan to utilize the 3-D model generated for its University Events Center project to improve the upkeep of the building long after the last worker has left the site.

Data from building systems will be incorporated into the model so that maintenance staff can call up the design, click on an air handler unit, for example, and see the upkeep schedule and performance for that piece of equipment. “The university has kind of taken the use of modeling to the next level,” says Eric Wildt, project manager for Turner Construction, the firm managing the project.

Increasing Capacity

The University Events Center is a renovation of and addition to Texas State’s existing Strahan Coliseum. The arena functions as both an athletic facility and the location of the college’s commencement ceremonies, making it a center of activity for the entire campus throughout the year. The building extension will add about 81,000 square feet to the arena structure while the renovation piece will upgrade the coaching offices and create training areas and amenities for Bobcat athletes.

The project will make needed renovations and upgrades to Texas State’s athletic facilities, but its primary purpose is to provide a better experience for graduation ceremonies through the addition of about 1,800 seats to the arena. “In the eyes of the university it’s not an athletics project, it’s a commencement project,” Wildt says. “The reason is they don’t have enough seats for family members to watch [commencement].”

Strahan Coliseum is part of a three-building complex on the campus tied together by connecting structures. The current coach’s offices are located in the connecting section between the arena and the Jowers Center. As part of the University Events Center addition, the school’s coaches will relocate from the connecting area into renovated offices in the upper level of the arena. The vacated space will then turn into locker rooms and administration space.Turner Texas State box

The renovations will enhance the visitor experience in a number of ways. A state-of-the-art scoreboard will be installed over center court and feature new capabilities such as player stats and an energy efficient LED display. A multi-purpose hospitality room is included in the plans and new restrooms and concession areas will be built. Outside the arena, a pedestrian plaza will be upgraded into a grand facade with low masonry wall seats, benches and new lighting and landscaping.

Texas State fans that prefer to watch the games at home should benefit as well. The plan calls for a new TV production room and a court-level loading dock that will allow broadcast trucks to more easily connect to the stadium’s cameras to broadcast athletic events.

In addition to the improvements to commencement ceremonies and athletic events, the project will bring with it an important infrastructure upgrade to the campus. Turner is building a chilled water plant behind a section of the Jowers Center that will feed water into the Strahan Coliseum and its connected buildings. The system will allow for the stadium and Jowers Center to be removed from the chilled water system that serves the rest of Texas State. “It frees up capacity on the main campus loop for all the new building they’re doing in the main part of campus,” Wildt explains.

Close Communication

Construction began in September and is on pace for completion by September 2018, ahead of that fall’s commencement ceremonies and the basketball season. As of February, Turner had excavated the area where the addition will be built, and begun work on the foundation by drilling piers, installing grade beams and waterproofing the base.

Strahan Coliseum lies adjacent to the San Marcos River, which makes for a scenic walk around the campus but the high water table is an obstacle for construction. Turner set up a large dewatering system on the site to keep the area dry while it completes the waterproofing. “That’s been a challenge because anytime we dig, the water table isn’t too far below the bottom of our grade beams,” Wildt says.

Safety is paramount on any construction site but it takes on an even larger significance when the facility remains open during the work. No other building on campus is outfitted to host basketball games, volleyball matches or graduations, so the school must keep the arena in use during construction. Turner must juggle its schedule and subcontractors around the activities going on inside the building, creating an extra wrinkle to the process. “We have to let them [the university] know every day what we’re doing,” Wildt says. “It has to be real-time and live.”

Turner is well equipped to handle those challenges. The company has extensive experience building stadiums and arenas. Its list of projects includes many of the most popular sporting venues in the United States, including Levi Stadium, Yankee Stadium and Madison Square Garden.

At Texas State, Turner’s experts worked directly with architects Sink Combs Dethlefs and C.J. Lammers & Associates to review design elements and provide feedback on how to build efficiently. “We were engaged pretty close from the start of the design of the project,” Wildt says. “Which is really smart for the owner to do because it allows us to sit at the table with design and help guide that design and budget so things don’t get mis-aligned.”

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