Project Profile: CFG Bank Arena
Scope of work:
$160 million interior and exterior renovation
BC&E Member companies involved:
Structural Preservation Systems
The moment that Bruce Springsteen walked onto the stage, Theo Tan got to see the full impact of a year of intensive, high-profile and frequently, unexpectedly complicated work.
A project executive with Clark Construction, Tan led the renovation of the renamed CFG Bank Arena.
“When we stepped onto the project February 28, 2022, we were taking on a $160 million project, with a less than one year schedule, and a design that was only about 60 percent complete,” he said.
With an early release for steel, the project team dug into the first major challenge. To transform the arena and turn it into a modern day, concert venue, crews had to reconfigure the stage area by first removing the existing load-bearing proscenium wall “which had columns that extended all the way into the ground,” Tan said.
To complete that task and enable other renovations, the team would have to transfer the load of the roof from the existing truss that was part of the proscenium wall, to an entirely new truss. The operation took nearly four months to plan and involved three teams of structural engineers. But on “truss jacking day,” craftsmen working on a platform 70 feet above the floor completing the operation flawlessly within a few hours.
The 60-year-old building, which had never undergone major renovations previously, presented crews with a few unexpected challenges.
“One of the biggest challenges came from the existing cloud ceilings — those geometrically shaped, continuous, ceilings that hung about 80 feet above the stage to improve acoustics,” Tan said. “It turned out that half of those ceilings contained asbestos.”
That discovery triggered a “screeching halt” to work in the arena’s bowl where crews were slated to remove all seats, reshape the bowl with concrete infills and construct new stairs and entrances. Full-height scaffolding needed to be built from the arena floor, so that a containment chamber could be built for safe abatement and removal of the cloud ceilings.
Work on the building’s exterior skin produced an equally unwelcome discovery. Upon demolishing sections of existing walls along the perimeter of the building, crews confirmed (as expected) that the building insulation was below standard but also discovered that water had infiltrated the wall and caused serious deterioration in the structural steel holding up the façade. Clark Construction added a local MBE to the project team to spend the next two months focusing on structural steel rehabilitation, then built new walls behind the metal panels and added ample insulation.
“It was a testament to how skilled and nimble the team was — we were able to take the pressure of putting in place $160 million worth of work in less than 12 months, make a plan to execute with a design that was only 60 percent complete, and adjust on the fly when a multitude of unexpected hiccups were encountered along the way.
And on the evening of April 7, Tan and other team members saw the results of all that effort. “Nothing compared to the experience of walking into our suite on the fifth floor as Springsteen was getting on stage and seeing the entire place filled with people in this first-class concert venue that we created.”