For Penn State's new $89-million Pegula Ice Arena, university officials challenged the project team to deliver the "best ice in the nation." To meet the goal, the team designed a state-of-the-art ice plant integrated with the building's HVAC system. To improve ice quality, the 228,000-sq-ft facility uses three semitrailer-size dehumidification units to condition oxygen before it enters the building. That helps sustain arena humidity and air temperature.

Ice quality is also driven by the quality of the concrete slab on which the ice sits. The specifications for the refrigerated concrete slab required the contractor to keep tight tolerances to produce a flat and level floor.

Design and construction team members used building information modeling in planning, fabrication, coordination and executing the project. Design assist by key trade partners provided construction feasibility and cost-saving alternatives in the design process.

Using BIM, contractor Mortenson identified a way to reduce the shoring required during construction to support a nearby underground communications bank serving the Penn State campus. The team reconfigured and reduced the size of the men's and women's showers, allowing two outboard shear walls to move inboard. That change reduced required shoring by 1,800 sq ft, saving Penn State more than $200,000, improving the schedule and simplifying logistics.

The team pioneered the use of the computerized automatic virtual environment (CAVE) in Penn State's Applied Research Lab. Multiple projectors aimed at the walls and floor of the 10-ft by 10-ft room allowed the team to virtually walk hallways and enter the rinks, concourse and other spaces. The CAVE averted more than $475,500 in changes during or after construction and helped the university to recruit elite athletes.

The team estimates that BIM use led to a $1.2-million saving.

The facility has a 6,000-seat main arena with a National Hockey League regulation-size rink. A second regulation-size rink with 300 seats operates nearly 24 hours a day for community and youth hockey leagues and for figure skating practices and tournaments.

The high-performance complex was designed to meet LEED Gold specifications. The project completed early, under budget and had a zero punch list for the first event.

Best Sports/Entertainment Project - Pegula Ice Arena, University Park, Pa.

Key Players

Owner The Pennsylvania State University

Lead Design Firm Crawford Architects

General Contractor Mortenson Construction

Design/Associate Architect Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

Structural Engineer Thornton Tomasetti

Mechanical/Electrical/Plumbing Engineer KJWW Engineering Consultants

Civil Engineer Sweetland Engineering

Landscape Architect Lager Raabe Skafte Landscape Architects

MEP Contractor The Farfield Co.

Excavation/Sitework Glenn O. Hawbaker