Facing Construction Challenges Head On

Dacon Corporation

For over 30 years, Dacon Corporation has been committed to design build, a construction process embracing architectural concepts from design inception through completion, assisting clients across industries. As a fully integrated design and construction management firm, Dacon manages all aspects of architectural design, engineering, construction management and general contracting on behalf of the client.

Unlike traditional construction, design build is a project delivery method in which the entire construction project is managed as a unified process beginning with design through final execution, resulting in greater cost savings, increased time efficiencies and lower risk. Dacon’s intense and innovative work on the Boston Sports Institute (BSI) is a testament to its ongoing commitment to creating unique and optimal designs that adhere to the client’s functional, financial and aesthetic parameters.

Monumental in both size and technological scope, the $23.3 million Boston Sports Institute (BSI) located in Wellesley, MA took 18 months from ideation to completion. This Olympic-worthy facility is situated on a limited development area and consists of 130,000 square feet encompassing two NHL-sized hockey rinks, an indoor turf field, suspended track and two pools – one of which came from the 2012 Olympic trials.

The competitive pool spans ten lanes (25 yards) lengthwise to bulkhead, plus three lanes (25 yards) width-wise for adaptive swim. The smaller (50 x 25 feet) warm water pool is for teaching and therapy. The indoor turf field allows for a variety of sports such as soccer and lacrosse, topped by an elevated track for running and walking. Additional site features include a rehabilitation center / strength conditioning area and test prep / tutoring facility for after school academic support and collegiate preparation. A pro shop offers sports gear, skate rentals and sharpening while a concession stand sells quick serve food. A visitor doesn’t have to leave the building to get all the benefits of exercise, sports, health, medicine and tutoring.

As to be expected with a building of this size and complexity, challenges arose, including environmental conservancy, a humid internal environment and the containment of chemicals. “Given its scale and scope, a facility of this size consumes a high level of energy, as the rink slabs have to be kept cool beneath the ice 24 hours a day, while the pool water has to be heated,” says Kevin Provencher, Director of Architecture for Dacon. “In addition to typical loads on the building, there are special ones as well, with cooling rinks and heating pools. To mitigate this, waste heat produced by refrigeration equipment is transferred to the natatorium to heat the water through a series of heat exchangers. Energy otherwise wasted is recycled, increasing the overall level of efficiency.” The refrigeration system uses ammonia, which has the greatest level of efficiency and sets the bar higher at the outset. The owners see an immediate savings reduction in operating costs.

Managing demands from multiple interior environments was a key influence on Dacon’s overall design and material selections. The exterior wall assembly was based on a tricolor pattern using Metl-Span panels which provided weather enclosure, insulation, air and vapor barrier in a single product. This approach encompassed the best overall value to fulfill the client’s functional and aesthetic requirements.

The interior climate possesses three different temperature zones – the ice rinks at 55°F and 48 percent humidity, business offices and common areas at 70°F and natatorium air temperature at 82°F with 60 percent humidity. “These vastly different temperatures can result in wall condensation, leading to mold, degradation of materials and health issues,” says Provencher. “The discrepancy in temperatures and humidity levels required specialized attention and separate mechanical systems.”

Additional considerations were undertaken for the chlorinated pool water. Chloramine gases from the water’s surface pose a potential irritant for skin, eyes and respiratory systems to both swimmers and spectators. Here Dacon’s innovative team distinguished themselves by installing a unique exhaust system to improve air quality. Specially designed swimmers’ benches with perforations at the base draw chloramine gas from the water’s surface and across the pool deck, which is then exhausted through the roof via ductwork and fans.

“Chemicals remain at floor level and out of the breathing zone,” explains Provencher. “It’s also easy temperature-wise, with no irritation to the eyes, skin or breathing, as is usually found in an older facility. To me, that’s a good sign that the facility is well-designed. It’s a very comfortable place to be.”

The natatoriums required unique design features when it came to windows and lighting. While natural light is welcomed as a design element, it creates a hidden hazardous condition when it reflects off the water’s surface, creating glare. This causes dangerous situations for lifeguards and impedes competitive swimmers. “The location and design of the windows was carefully considered to manage potential glare,” explains Provencher. “Special ceramic coating was applied to the glass to cut down visible light transmission by 50 percent. Using solar geometry, we placed windows on the north side of building, thereby limiting direct sunlight to only few hours per year.”

Energy conservation for a large-scale sports facility like BSI presented both a financial challenge and an opportunity. Alongside repurposing energy from rink cooling systems, key conservation measures include LED lighting and a 900kW photovoltaic array on top of the 100,000 square foot roof. The resulting program reduces Energy Use Intensity (EUI) from baseline EUI 192.1 kBtu/ft2 to 169.2 kBtu/ft2, a 12 percent savings. This contributes to the town of Wellesley’s overall environmental goal to reduce electrical grid demand and carbon emissions.

Wellesley is a suburban community in MetroWest Boston known for collegiate and private secondary academic institutions. While there are other multi-use facilities in the vicinity, BSI is the first that incorporates aquatics, ice rinks and indoor tracks under one roof. By employing a public-private partnership model, the private developer builds, owns and operates the facility while the town retains land ownership and preferred access. This fulfills a long-standing need for a professional grade facility for the region. “It satisfies the town’s need for sports programs, but is also a for-profit commercial business,” says Provencher.

Dacon is known for being a true design build company, in an age when the term is often misused and misunderstood. True design build focuses on the client’s needs and a solution for every budget. This enables innovation, architectural creativity and practical money management by employing transparent collaboration between the client and design builder. The end result is effective building projects. While there remain many misconceptions, Dacon is steadfast in its commitment to the principles of value, quality and delivery.

“As a design build company, Dacon acts as your agent,” states Kevin Quinn, CEO of Dacon. “We calculate the total cost from architectural design through execution at the outset. Throughout the process, we look for savings using our subcontractor relationships and pass those onto our clients. Dacon does the job of getting people where they want to be. It’s really a story of honesty and the productive results collaboration brings.”

Building the Next Generation

As thousands of experienced workers retire across North America every day, it is small wonder many industries are concerned about the future. It has been a decade since the oldest members of the baby boom generation started leaving their jobs, removing from the workplace decades of experience and skills that are tough to replace. The situation is so dire that, when younger workers are not available or knowledgeable enough to take over, retired staffers are often called back to work on a part-time basis.

November 22, 2019, 7:40 AM EST