By Mason Nichols
Just north of Indianapolis, a massive, 400-acre sports park offers more than 50 fields for recreational sports ranging from soccer to baseball and everything in between (1). But the plans for Grand Park, which opened in June 2014, extend even further. In the future, the largest U.S. mixed-use sports complex will also feature a variety of dining, retail and entertainment venues, making it a centralized hub for youth sports in the Midwest.
For now, the park continues to expand with the construction of indoor recreational facilities. In January, Grand Park opened Jonathan Byrd’s Fieldhouse, an 88,000-square-foot structure housing eight courts mainly for basketball and volleyball games. Specifiers turned to precast concrete to meet the project’s tight schedule and provide a durable, attractive building envelope.
A happy marriage
City officials envisioned a structure that would be as pleasing to the eye as it would be functional. After consulting with American Structurepoint, the project’s architecture and engineering firm, both parties agreed to erect the fieldhouse with architectural precast concrete wall panels.
Dan McCloskey, senior project architect for American Structurepoint, explained why precast panels provided the ideal solution.
“Precast concrete was a great material to marry aesthetic options with ease of construction,” he said. “The ability to cast in reveals and varying profiles while working with the precast supplier to fine-tune the structural life of the panel and the exterior face details was a smooth process.”
American Structurepoint collaborated with Coreslab Structures, the precast supplier, to develop three distinct panel designs with varying reveal patterns. The three templates were interchanged among the 94 precast panels installed, giving the fieldhouse a unique appearance.
According to Mark Greiner, sales consultant with Coreslab, the 32-foot-tall, 10-inch-thick panels are load-bearing. As a result, no interior columns support the structure. Instead, the panels are braced, relying on the roof to hold them in place.
Winning big with precast
A compressed schedule mandated efficiency from the moment developer and general contractor Lauth Construction broke ground on the project. Crews had limited time to fully enclose the building, at which point the interior finish work – including laying down the courts and placing the bleachers – could be completed.
“When Lauth got the project, the schedule was very important,” Greiner said. “They really had to get these panels engineered, fabricated, delivered and erected in a pretty rapid timeframe.”
Thanks to the solid relationships built among the parties involved, Coreslab was able to manufacture and ship the panels to the site in less than four months. With the panels on site, construction hastened. Chris Vensel, Lauth’s director of pre-construction, noted precast was crucial to getting the structure up on time.
“Using precast enabled an accelerated installation,” he said. “We completed all of the precast work in less than 10 working days.”
Besides offering a shortened timeline, the use of precast also increases the fieldhouse’s durability. Outside, precast enables an extended service life, protecting the structure from the elements. Inside, the walls can endure heavy usage as the facility operates over the years.
Basic building shells can lack charisma, but the completed Jonathan Byrd’s Fieldhouse packs plenty of visual punch. In addition to the aforementioned reveal patterns, the structure features a distinctive three-tone paint scheme. The result is a building that captures plenty of attention for its architectural flare.
“The fieldhouse meets and exceeds what the owners were looking for on the project,” Greiner said. “It’s very modern, the paint scheme is colorful and it’s certainly a building that will be noticed.”
McCloskey agreed, noting Coreslab fabricated the panels with extreme precision.
“Those reveal lines are about as straight as I could ever possibly imagine them being,” he said. “When the colors were added, it began to sing from the standpoint of the aesthetic. It turned out as well as it could have.”
To build a premier sports complex deserving of the name “Grand Park,” top-notch building materials must be used. In the case of Jonathan Byrd’s Fieldhouse, precast concrete delivered.
“I don’t even know what other product we would have thought to use,” McCloskey said.
While the results of the sporting events inside will be unpredictable, participants and attendees alike can count on the durability and attractive design of Jonathan Byrd’s Fieldhouse for decades to come.
Mason Nichols is the managing editor of Precast Solutions magazine and NPCA’s external communication and marketing manager.