Bulldogs' Ice Arena Slated For Work

April 28, 2008
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Construction goes on all the time at Ferris State University’s Big Rapids campus, but one project just getting under way may be taking that quite literally.

A $3.3 million project at the Ewigleben Ice Arena may require two or three shifts of construction workers to meet its August deadline, said Associate Vice President for Physical Plant Michael Hughes.

The last work at the arena occurred a decade ago and didn’t have much to do with what matters to Bulldogs on skates: the main ice rink, Hughes said. Built in 1974, Ewigleben now will undergo its first major overhaul of the subfloor equipment, flooring and dasher boards and glass systems.

Grand Rapids architecture and engineering firm DTS + Winkelmann LLC, which bills itself as “the ice arena experts,” is working on the project.

“The piping under the concrete slabs is failing on the full and the half rink,” Hughes said. “We need to replace that. That means we have to tear out the concrete slab, the dasher system around the rink, and put in a new concrete slab and dasherboard system.”

Locker rooms located between the rinks will be upgraded, as will the ventilation system. “All the indoor air codes have changed considerably,” Hughes said.

Work was slated to commence May 1 and will be handled by Granger Construction, based in Lansing.

But finishing the job in August “will probably force us to work around the clock, two shifts and maybe three,” Hughes added.

Athletic Director Tom Kirinovic said the work means Ferris won’t be hosting summer camps for young hockey players this year. “We have four to six weeks of camps in any given summer,” he said.

Kirinovic said he expects the new surface will be ready when hockey players return to campus with the rest of the student body the day after Labor Day. Practice starts in earnest later in September.

“What we’re not sure about is exactly what we’re going to find when we start tearing out the old piping and tubing,” he said. Over the years, frost builds up under the building, and it’s unknown how deep into the earth it goes. The frosty ground needs to be replaced, he added.

“Unless you look real close, you may not notice any difference between what’s there today and what may be there three or four months from now,” Kirinovic said. “More importantly, the ice should be a little better because we’ll have better equipment making the ice, and better ventilation. If you are a user of the facility, you will notice a difference.”

Also facing an August deadline is a $1 million replacement of artificial turf at Top Taggart Field. MC Smith Associates and Architectural Group Inc. of East Grand Rapids is working on the project with Kiefer Specialty Flooring Inc. of Kalamazoo to install a recyclable product from Mondo Worldwide. Kirinovic said no disruption is expected to the football team’s practice season, which begins in August.

This is the fourth year of an ongoing project to upgrade classrooms, and for the first time, laboratories are being added to the to-do list, Hughes said.

“This is an initiative our president (David Eisler) asked us to work on, and his goal is, over a five-year period, to renovate every academic space on campus.”

Some 47 classrooms have been renovated so far, and another 10 will see work this summer, along with five or six laboratories, he said.

Karen Simmon, facilities management assistant, has been working with the Academic Affairs Division to coordinate the project. Spaces have been divided into two categories: those getting cosmetic upgrades such as paint, carpet and furniture, and those in need of more extensive work to the mechanical and electrical systems. Grand Rapids firm Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber has helped FSU set standards not only for items such as paint colors and furniture, but in meeting audiovisual and technology needs for modern classrooms, Hughes said.

Simmon said West Michigan’s office furniture manufacturers have been well-represented in FSU’s refurbished classrooms, including Steelcase, Herman Miller, Haworth and Knoll. She has worked with WorkSquared, Custer Office Interiors, West Michigan Office Interiors and Interphase.

“We try to get a mix and blend of the greatest need and marry that up to the available dollars,” Hughes said.

But the job might stretch past its original half-decade timeline, he added. “It’s going to cost significantly more dollars than we have available to do the lab piece,” he said. “It’s much more expensive to renovate a science wet lab, for instance, than to do a computer lab.”

The university is undertaking several other smaller projects, including $1 million in roof work. The next big job down the road will be replacing miles of underground infrastructure such as steam and water pipes and storm and sanitary sewers that are 40 to 50 years old, Hughes said.

Summer used to be a quiet time with few students and a good time for construction work. But, Hughes said, a happy challenge has been working around enrollment growth and summer programs.

“Our summer enrollment is up, and there’s a significant number of summer programs and camps. It’s very unusual for any significant portion of our buildings to be vacant in the summer. It’s an added challenge to doing a lot of these projects.” CQX

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