Precast concrete is the starring center in the Huskies new on-campus ice rink. The University of Connecticut (UConn) broke ground in 2021 on its long-awaited hockey arena on the site of a former parking lot. The latest addition to the schools' athletics district consists of a structural braced steel frame assembly with precast concrete risers at the arena seating area. The exterior envelope includes curtain wall, brick veneer, and metal panels.
The three-level, 97,000 SF ice hockey arena was designed to meet NCAA Division 1 requirements. JCJ Architecture designed the student athlete section to rival any D1 program. The new $52M facility is designed to make student athletes feel comfortable as well as attract the best up-and-coming athletes.
In addition to the ice rink and capacity for 2,500 fans, there is club level seating, concession areas, bathrooms, team rooms, lockers, and strength and conditioning areas. The new facility has coaching offices, an ice-level lounge - which provides the best low-level look of the entire seating bowl and ice surface. There are team areas designated for men's and women's squads as well as a weight room.
The reason the project team selected precast concrete for the project was multi-faceted. The appeal of the material's low maintenance dovetails with the needs of facility management at the university. Keeping costs down is another primary driver, staying within the funds allocated for the capital project. Also, the speed of precast installation helped meet the tight schedule, even during harsh winter months.
Initially, the project was laid out with single riser precast concrete stadia elements. With value engineering input from J.P. Carrara, a triple riser stadia system greatly reduced the number of pieces to fabricate, erect, and joints to caulk, saving the University time and money. The precast risers support the seating in the arena and are designed to satisfy the sightline requirements of the venue. Precast concrete dasher boards were used for the safety of spectators. The dasher board panels make up the bottom part of the barrier and absorb the most punishment compared to any other part of the rink.
Coordinating with Turner Construction, the precast installation took place from mid-January through April 2022. J.P. Carrara delivered the dasher board panels, wall panels, and single, double and triple riser stadia bleachers as needed. There were also cantilevered stadia club seating bleachers with integral knee walls as part of the project scope. Bleachers at the ice lounge provided bracing for wall panels and had to be installed first. The single, double and triple riser units required a vertical lift by the crane.
The result is that at the concourse level, every seat has a great view. A year after breaking ground, the precast concrete stands support the full-time home of the Huskies' two hockey programs.