Originally posted Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Written by Hannah Genslinger

On February 1, 2012, a giant blue ribbon stretched across the shiny floor of the basketball court in the University of Texas at Arlington’s new College Park Center (CPC). Three years of planning and construction culminated in the facility’s grand opening amid a fantastic special effects display, followed by a doubleheader in which both the men and women’s home basketball teams defeated their opponents. Far more than just a basketball arena, the $59.3-million CPC plays host to an impressive array of major events at the university, as well as providing leisure and study spaces for the student body.

ProjectleadershipDetailsProject Description

Located on the east side of campus, close to the University Center, Welcome Center, and Residence Halls, the CPC is a multi-purpose, state-of-the-art arena that hosts UT-Arlington athletic events, graduation ceremonies, convocations, concerts, lectures, and many other community gatherings. The CPC covers approximately 218,000 gross square feet, with a seating capacity of 7,000 for sporting events and 7,500 for concerts and graduations.

For the university’s athletic program, the CPC features an athletic floor for the basketball and volleyball teams, two full-size practice courts, athletic and administration offices, nine locker rooms, a weight room, a film and media center, and academic spaces for the student athletes. Additionally, the CPC includes an extensive therapy/ training facility with three Hydro Therapy Pools, one of which is a treadmill pool. The CPC is also home to the University’s Emergency Operation Center.

Overall Project Management

The University of Texas System Office of Facilities Planning and Construction (OFPC) brought in a Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) to participate in the Schematic Design and provide design and constructability services throughout the entire design process. This collaboration determined the type of structure, type of roof design, and types of loading to occur on the arena floor during construction. These decisions led to completing the project ahead of schedule and under budget, with only 0.25-percent cost of change orders.

Together with the CMAR, OFPC developed a computer simulation of the anticipated monthly progress of the construction. The Campus Owner and OFPC used this program to compare anticipated progress with actual progress, while the CMAR used the program to locate and sequence cranes, schedule deliveries, and reduce construction impact to the surrounding community, while also coordinating additional, simultaneous construction along the site’s northern boundary.

Projectleadership_2Project Scheduling: OFPC employs a very rigorous process for schedule development and monitoring/control for all its projects. This includes collaborative development of the plan with all parties engaged as early as possible, a formal acceptance of Baseline Schedule to include required schedule Float, and regular monitoring of progress. During early planning, a variety of reasons led to direct appointing the A/E, which expedited procurement of the CMAR to assist with cost control and constructability from the beginning of design. This saved approximately two months off the overall schedule and helped jump-start the challenging task of designing and building a 7,000 seat events center for a very complex Owner organization in just three years.

UT Arlington, the using institution, notified OFPC in September 2011 that the grand opening event was moved up from May 14th of the next year to February 1st, just five days after scheduled Substantial Completion. Though construction and startup were still ongoing, the project team accelerated the training of the Operations and Event staff, requiring the moving of many activities to a second shift to prevent overhead work from impacting the workers and trainees below. In spite of these unforeseen difficulties, the project beat the schedule by two days, and the CPC hosted a successful grand opening to a full house. The event planners said they had never seen anyone attempt a grand opening on the level of the CPC’s without first conducting several soft openings.

Projectleadership_3Cost Management: By bringing the CMAR onboard early in the Schematic Design process, the team was able to price the project with added certainty as the design was progressing, thus averting the need to backtrack and perform extensive value engineering and/or cost reduction. The project’s limited time allotment and schedule development indicated a need for an allowance percentage for second shift or overtime work to be included in the Subcontractor Bid packages. Since the project was bid in a competitive market, however, it was not subject to excessive pricing, even when adjustments to work shifts became necessary.

Quality Management: The CMAR was solely responsible for Quality Control and assigned a single point of coordination for control of all testing, start-up, operational checkout, coordination, and commissioning of all items of work included in the project. The OFPC’s Project Manager performed all Quality Assurance procedures, including daily observations, inspections, testing, verification, monitoring, and other tasks needed to ensure compliance with contract documents. Specifically, these included inspection of material testing, air balancing, fire/life safety systems, building envelope assurance, as well as civil, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing inspections for contractor conformance to all project specifications/contract documents.

Projectleadership_4The Quality Assurance program included inspections (progress, daily testing, above and below ceiling), pre-installation meetings, mock ups, deficiency logs, field observation reports, and equipment/systems commissioning, along with final punch lists. Quality Assurance was further enhanced through OFPC’s use of an elaborate system of checklists for formal inspection and commissioning of all work and systems. Additionally, OFPC employed full-time Construction Inspectors and Resident Construction Managers during the construction phase of the project, which also contributed to effective Quality Management.

Overall Project Success

Several key factors contributed to the overall success of the CPC project:

The early addition of the CMAR to the team during the Schematic Design phase of the project provided valuable insight into the cost implications associated with various building systems and materials, the impact of sustainable design and LEED to the project budget, and the complexity of coordinating various space usages. In conjunction with the UT OFPC Project Manager, the CMAR developed a multi-project bidding strategy that limited subcontractor cost, manpower, and construction equipment, thus reducing overall project costs and allowing the Owner to secure a greater value for their dollar.

The early development and use of BIM by the MEP subcontractors minimized conflicts and expedited installation while reducing the number of change order requests.

The use of an Electronic Submittal process expedited the review/turnaround time and provided instant updates for the Team to view current status of the submittal. This allowed for instant notification of approval or rejection/resubmit. At the conclusion, comments were merged into one file that was sent to the Owner for historical records and access. This same system interfaced the RFIs, Observation/Field Reports, and Change Order logs.

The early development of a Control System/EMS presentation provided an opportunity for the project team to verify that the control system design was progressing as planned.

Thanks to the aggressive implementation of OFPC’s Safety Net program, the project expended over one million man hours without a Lost Time Accident. The Safety Net program is considered by OSHA to be a forerunner in the construction industry. It includes regular site reviews and uploading of findings into a web-based database with automatic reporting to OFPC executive leadership and is a contributing factor in the long-term success of UT System’s rolling owner-controlled insurance program (ROCIP).

Assignment of certain installations, such as precast concrete, baton/stage rigging, scoreboard, HVAC bowl ductwork, and terrazzo, to the night shift allowed daytime workers to perform without worrying about activity overhead.

Project Complexity

A project of this magnitude carried out in such a limited time frame on a busy college campus inevitably faced numerous complications and difficulties, among them:

Sizing of the Smoke Evacuation System was critical to the project and required an extensive Egress Analysis report that included exit locations/capacities, handicap rally exits and points, type of audio interrupt messaging, vomitory pinch points and air velocities, and numerous fire (BTU) intensities scenarios. The Fire Marshal also required an extensive sprinkler system above and below the Lapidaries due to the High Truss Roof steel.

The Campus Owner changed their Sole Source Security contractor after the team had already awarded the design to the previous provider. This required the team to redesign and revise the control system.
Early in the project, the CMAR provided a control system presentation that detailed the systems and how they interacted with the other systems and the Campus Main Energy Management System. User comments were incorporated into the design both after the initial presentation and after a second presentation given before commissioning began.

The concrete event floor was a suspended slab with a four-foot crawl space below. The original load design of that slab was insufficient to support oversized 120-foot man lifts. The design team beefed up the concrete beams in designated areas under the slab to allow these rigs to have access around the event floor.

The erection of the roof trusses required a detailed crane and operation sequence, as there were two tower cranes operating within feet of three crawler cranes.

Nighttime precast erection required offsite storage (daily basis) sequencing. The precast was shipped 300 miles in the day, and precast deliveries arrived one at a time due to site restrictions. This maximized the use of the tower cranes and reduced the time that the cranes needed to be rented, thus saving the project $300,000.


While the CPC was initially designed to be sustainable and achieve LEED Silver Certification, an extra effort by the project team during the course of construction secured additional points, leading to CPC achieving LEED Gold Certification. Sustainable features include a white reflective TPO roof, water efficient landscaping, high coefficient exterior glass, and automated light sensors. The team reduced water use at the CPC and increased energy efficiency by 15 percent, while recycling over 75 percent of diverted construction waste, including concrete, steel, and wood from the landfill.

Additionally, a former parking lot on the south side of the CPC was developed into a sustainable landscape project and was specifically designed to interact with and enhance the sustainability of the CPC. The landscape project, known as The Green at College Park, is a 2.6-acre park, and it was one of the first projects certified through the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES), a certification similar to LEED but focused on built landscapes instead of buildings.

With its specialized soil, plants, and design concepts, the Green’s primary ecological function is to serve as a water detention system and large-scale rain garden. In fact, the Green’s numerous sustainable features will provide for a more than 25-percent decrease in the amount of storm water runoff that was expected from the 218,000-square-foot CPC. Moreover, to benefit the community, the Green also features a native plant garden, gathering plaza, activity lawn, shade arbors, as well as various other pedestrian amenities. For more details on The Green at College Park and SITES, turn to page 22.

For its superior planning and management, the University of Texas at Arlington was presented with COAA’s 2012 Project Leadership Gold Award for the new College Park Center. For more information on the CPC, visit www.utacollegepark.com.