Adaptive reuse project wins architecture and engineering award

A 400,000-sq.-ft adaptive reuse sports facility in Stamford, Conn., has earned national recognition in the 2013 Innovative Design in Engineering and Architecture with Structural Steel awards program (IDEAS2).

Opened to the public in the summer of 2012, Chelsea Piers Connecticut features two NHL regulation ice rinks, enormous turf fields (for soccer, lacrosse, football, field hockey, softball, and baseball), a 20,000-sq.-ft gymnastics center, an aquatics center with an Olympic-sized pool, seven tennis courts, 12 squash courts, a trampoline center, a baseball/softball training area, childcare/preschool, food service, pro shop, catering and party/special event spaces.

Chelsea Piers sports facility

This sports facility used to be a Clairol factory that produced Herbal Essence shampoo.

The building housing this state-of-the-art sports facility is a 45-year-old manufacturing plant previously used by Clairol as the facility for manufacturing Herbal Essence shampoo. The adaptive reuse saved the old building from being demolished and ending up in a landfill; Clairol maintained the building well, keeping it in excellent condition.

Although the building square footage met the project’s requirements, the lack of large column-free spaces created a potential roadblock. Professional quality sports facilities such as swimming pools, hockey rinks and tennis courts require large column-free areas in excess of a 100 ft wide. This criterion required the removal of 23 columns from the building in order to achieve the column-free zones. Determining an economical method for removing the existing columns while leaving the entire roof structure in place was the principal challenge. The solutions selected by WSP Cantor Seinuk were extremely creative, economical and highly sustainable, resulting in reuse of the existing roof structure, limited demolition and limited use of new materials.

The proposed structural system was based upon the use of king post trusses constructed out of the in-place existing roof structure. Leaving the existing beams, which formed the top compression chords of the truss, in place and using a portion of the existing columns as the king posts, only a relatively small amount of steel had to be added to form the tension cords of the truss. Upgrading of the in-place top chord members was accomplished via composite action with the new concrete slab poured on the existing in-place metal roof deck. Steel angle members were used for the tension chords of the trusses. Although the simple and basic “off the shelf” structural members remain exposed, their aesthetically pleasing form is quite apparent. The positive effect of the forms on the facility’s architecture is further testament to the economic and sustainable accomplishments achievable via innovative engineering. It is an excellent example of form following function.

The design met all the criteria – with the exception of being able to achieve a flat floor after the concrete was poured. Since the existing roof, which was supported upon the new king post trusses, was slated to become additional space for the new sport facilities, there was a requirement for a very flat floor structure. The proposed eloquent solution, calling for the cambering of the trusses prior to pouring the concrete slab, was accomplished via jacking of the existing roof structure prior to the installation of the new truss members. After the installation of the truss steel, the existing columns were cut out and removed. Upon pouring the new roof concrete the trusses deflected precisely as designed, leaving a flat surface for the tennis courts and soccer area to be located above.

Amer Inst for Steel Construction.Conducted annually by the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), the IDEAS2 awards recognize outstanding achievement in engineering and architecture on structural steel projects across the country. The IDEAS2 award is the highest, most prestigious honor bestowed on building projects by the structural steel industry in the U.S. and recognizes the importance of teamwork, coordination and collaboration in fostering successful construction projects.

The awards presentation coincides with a day special to the U.S. structural steel industry: National SteelDay. Steel industry companies and related businesses across the U.S. celebrate the day with a variety of events taking place from coast to coast.