Ball Construction – Pelham Community Center

BallBall Construction uses its years of experience in building cost-effective recreational facilities to deliver a new ice rink and community center for the town of Pelham, Ontario.

By Jim Harris

The town of Pelham, Ontario, is looking to one of its region’s leading recreational facility builders to complete a portion of its new town center.

Ball Construction in November 2016 began work on the $35 million Pelham Community Center, a 143,000-square-foot, two-story recreational facility. The building is one of the key components of a new commercial and residential subdivision in the town. “The town is experiencing an influx of people moving from urban centers like Toronto,” says Bob Nippell, a project manager for Ball Construction.Ball info box

Ball is serving as the construction manager on the facility, which includes two NHL-sized ice rinks as well as a double gym and multi-purpose rooms. The center features a structural steel frame, precast concrete bleachers and hollow core floors. The building’s exterior includes a PVC roof and a brick veneer façade punctuated with zinc panels and aluminum curtain wall elements to create an urban, pedestrian-friendly streetscape.

The structure and most of the building’s exterior are complete and installation of the building’s refrigeration system is underway. The refrigeration plant was built off-site and delivered to the building, where it is being connected to a cooling tower and headers on each rink. The refrigeration plant was designed and built by Cimco Refrigeration Inc.

Work is also ongoing on the building’s curtainwall envelope. The recreation center is anticipated to be fully enclosed by December, and the building is slated for completion next June.

Controlling the Budget

The Town of Pelham called upon Ball Construction to provide guidance regarding the building’s budget and constructability. The construction manager worked closely with Petroff Partnership Architecture, the firm retained by the town to develop drawings and structural designs for the building. “We were hired for our expertise and ability to bring the project under control and let the town prioritize what they wanted and what they could afford,” Nippell says.

During design development, the construction manager and architect opted to increase the building’s total area by 7,000 square feet to allow for better user circulation through the building. This included adding an additional corridor and expanding the space between changing rooms and the lobby. “There was a concern [adding space] might cause the project to go over budget, but we felt the additional square footage would allow the facility to function better with more flexibility to concurrent activities,” Nippell says.Ball 2

To avoid going over budget, Ball Construction performed extensive value engineering on the project to find ways to reduce costs. This included using different wall panels and other materials in the building’s interior, as well as deferring the construction of a second elevator. 

Ball Construction also controlled costs by developing a design review process in conjunction with the architect. Ball invited design specialists to submit proposals for mechanical, electrical, refrigeration and sprinkler systems. “We wanted to control the design to meet the budget,” Nippell says. “We placed the design/build responsibility on our partners to hold the line [on the budget].”

The construction manager analyzed each proposal before choosing subtrades. Subtrades were chosen based not just on cost, but also on experience and overall value.

Decades of Experience

Ball Construction has prior experience working with two of the subcontractors chosen for the project: Dordan Mechanical Inc., the design/build mechanical contractor; and C&H Fire Suppression, who are providing the sprinkler systems. The company also has a longstanding relationship with ACL Steel, the structural steel contractor.

The construction manager has not previously worked with ECCO Electric, the electrical contractor, but chose them based on their history and qualifications, Nippell says.

Ball Construction tapped its more than 30 years of experience building arenas and recreational facilities for its work on the Pelham Community Center. The company has built more than 45 ice surfaces throughout Ontario, as well as multipurpose facilities including gyms, aquatic centers and spectator facilities.

“We have established a reputation as a leading design/builder of arenas,” he adds. “Our experience and knowledge, as well as the relationships we’ve developed with our partners over the years, sets us apart. We have many satisfied clients whose testimonials about our work have really helped push new jobs our way.”

The company’s history dates back to 1923, when it was established as a partnership between brothers Frank and Harold Ball. The company is currently owned by the third generation of the Ball family. In addition to recreational facilities, Ball Construction is also skilled in commercial, residential, industrial and historical renovation projects.

Ball’s past projects include a some of Ontario’s most architecturally impressive facilities including the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and the University of Waterloo Health Sciences’ School of Pharmacy. Both of those projects were recognized with Awards of Excellence by the Grand Valley Construction Association, the company says. 

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