“Getting the work done was complicated in terms of coordination,” Dunn recalls. “We had to figure out ways to do our work faster without compromising safety. For example, instead of working off of scaffolding and platforms, we had to use a lot of specialty rigging and lifts, which gave us time and room to adapt.”
In the first phase – following the Hawks’ final game in 2017 – structural demolition was the order of the day. Some of the systems had no valves, so we had to figure out ways to shut them down without taking down the entire central plant. That sometimes meant freezing the pipes with liquid nitrogen so we could cut and cap pipe while the system continued to operate. At other times, hot tapping was required to attach branch connections without interrupting pipeline flow.
This need to adapt quickly applied to other aspects of the project. The inspired owners had ideas along the way – what if we moved this here? What if we added that over there? Their creativity is what yielded the impressive outcome. But it also required us to be quick on our feet. In all, our team had 140 change orders on the job.
That same agility was needed in Phase 2, which began with the start of the Hawks’ 2017-18 season in October. For the next six months, we would focus on back-of-the-house type work and the north end restaurant renovations. We often started in the (very) early morning, as we had to be finished by noon on days with games and events. To the viewing public, our craftsmanship was shielded by huge curtains.
The Hawks made the playoffs that season, but they didn’t venture past the first round. So, in May 2018, the clock began ticking to get the renovation finished by October.
That third phase involved making structural changes on the east side of the arena, with its open concourse and varying viewing options. Much of it required revising and re-routing ducts with our sheet-metal subcontractor partners Southside Sheet Metal and BHW. We also replaced a series of air handling units and 50 fan coil units.
“The complexity and magnitude of this project made it unique,” says Gordon Dunn, “but it was worth it. State Farm Arena today is really a masterpiece venue.”