UCCS Ent Center for the Arts
Colorado Springs
Best Project

Owner: University of Colorado Colorado Springs
Lead Design Firm: Semple Brown / H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture 
General Contractor: JE Dunn Construction
Structural Engineer: Martin/Martin Consulting Engineers
Civil Engineer: NV5 
MEP Engineer: ME Engineers
Theatrical Consultant: Auerbach Pollock Friedlander 
Acoustics: Jaffe Holden Acoustics
Key Subcontractors: Ambient Energy; CTL | Thompson Inc.; Encore Electric; Johnson Controls; Midwest Steel; MTech Mechanical; Olson Plumbing & Heating Co.

The electrical systems for the new Ent Center for the Arts contain more than 30 miles of conduits. The complex includes numerous theaters, a music recital hall and a recording studio, and the routing for the conduits had to accommodate the acoustical properties of different venues. Each one features cutting-edge design and a wealth of the latest technical equipment and systems. Incorporating them invisibly into such a beautiful space was a monumental challenge.

For example, the complex’s Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater connects to an advanced studio for recording live performances. The recital hall, meanwhile, contains an inductive-loop assisted-listening system within the concrete floor. It’s a technological tool that will help the hard-of-hearing enjoy performances there. Another venue, the Marie Walsh Sharpe Gallery of Contemporary Arts, has specially designed lighting that also required complex electrical work.

Another challenge was making sure that each theater would not pick up sound from the others. That meant the conduit routing was strictly governed by every theater’s acoustical properties. It also meant that many AC and DC voltages had to be separated. The electrical contractor addressed the problems by building a detailed BIM model that helped the team specify the exact location of each conduit.

An additional challenge involved taking a complex set of drawings, specifications and plans and not only making them work in place, but also making them cost-effective on a tight schedule. In the words of the electrical contractor, that “necessitated innovating every single day.” The first element was an extraordinary attention to detail; even the smallest-diameter conduits were included in the 3D model. Autodesk’s Revit 2016 was used to draw each system’s conduits, which were individually identified and ultimately assigned a color to provide a visual quality-control check.

The Ent Center’s complex electrical system won’t be noticed by patrons. But it is a centerpiece of the productions that will be enjoyed by theatergoers throughout the Colorado Springs area.

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