A $70 million Sacred Heart University ice hockey and skating arena has commenced construction on the university’s West Campus in Fairfield, Conn. The arena is the future home of the Sacred Heart University Pioneers Division I men’s and women’s hockey teams, which are members of Atlantic Hockey. Also to serve the university’s men’s club team and figure skating team, the arena is slated for a first puck drop in January 2023.
As supplier of the building’s all-important exterior steel panels, EcoSteel is playing a key role in making this dream come true for the Sacred Heart University (SHU) men’s and women’s pucksters, as well as other university ice sport participants.
Measuring 122,158 square feet, with an NHL-standard 85-by-200-foot rink, the new arena incorporates cutting-edge ice management technology. State-of-the-art locker rooms and top shelf strength and conditioning amenities are featured, as are a hydrotherapy suite, rapid-shot puck room designed for off-ice training and spaces for film study, meetings and relaxing. The university’s acclaimed figure skating team will leverage a pro-motion training harness and locker room of Olympic quality.
The arena will also serve as learning laboratory of sorts for those pursuing educational internships and graduate assistantships in the well-regarded SHU academic disciplines of sports management and marketing, sports communication and media and hospitality.
Concerts and guest lectures will be held in the facility, and hours of open skating will be reserved for students, professors, administrators and members of the community.
Distinctive look sought
When it came to choosing a company to fabricate the steel building materials used in the structure’s exterior, the architect of record chose EcoSteel from a number of other steel panel manufacturers and suppliers to provide the 16,000 square feet of metal panels featured in the exterior cladding of the arena. The building’s exterior includes an extensive elevation of aluminum curtain wall and glazing. Wherever those materials are not featured, EcoSteel panels are being installed.
“We have not worked with EcoSteel in the past,” says Matthew Buechele, with
Advanced Performance Glass, Inc., the project manager.
“EcoSteel typically does structures, but on this particular project, EcoSteel is only
providing the panels. These are three-inch insulated metal wall panels with a one inch reveal. The design team was adamant that there be a one-inch reveal in between the panels, and EcoSteel was the one company that could provide that.”
Asked why a one-inch reveal was needed, Buechele did not hesitate. “A lot of times architects just want a certain look. And I think this is going to look very cool. Typically, you have an eighth-inch reveal, and with a one-inch reveal it will have a distinctive look.”
Aside from EcoSteel’s involvement, the project has not been without obstacles. As they have been throughout the recent past, material lead times have proven challenging. The project team has been forced to proactively order materials ahead of a typical schedule.
And because the parcel on which the arena will be built is a smaller job site, staging of construction materials and supplies hasn’t been easy. “The space is limited. The West Campus is very close to the Main Campus, and it’s on a hillside,” Buechele says.
The installation of the EcoSteel wall panels, which stood at about a 25 percent completion mark when Buechele granted an interview, has proven a welcome respite from other headwinds often associated with construction projects. “I haven’t heard any complaints from the installers about quality or installation ease,” Buechele says.
“The installation of the EcoSteel is going very well. I’ve been dealing with [EcoSteel’s] David Scott, who’s been very responsive. EcoSteel has been very good to work with.”
The arena development and construction has involved a collaboration of several
partners in addition to EcoSteel. That collaboration features JLG Architects, the SLAM Collaborative, Dimensional Innovations and Consigli Construction.
When the inaugural first pucks get dropped on Saturday, January 14, 2023, two
nationally recognized and iconic collegiate hockey programs, Boston College and Sacred Heart University, will battle for dominance. And EcoSteel will be there as a proud part of a facility serving as a testament to the host university’s commitment to ice hockey, figure skating and indeed all ice sports – now and for decades to come.