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Southern design finds home in Wisconsin athletics building

Southern design finds home in Wisconsin athletics building

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Hamilton School District Indoor Athletic Facility

Location: Sussex

Project size: 400,000 square feet

Project cost: $4.8 million

Start date: April 2014

Completion date: October 2014

Submitting company: J.P. Cullen & Sons Inc.

General contractor: J.P. Cullen & Sons Inc.

Architect: Plunkett Raysich Architects

Owner: Hamilton School District

High-school sprinters were taking part in track-and-field sports on terrazzo and tile, and cheerleaders were shaking their pompons to the scent of cafeteria pasta.

Under pressure to safely and inexpensively accommodate a steadily increasing number of students who were engaged in extracurricular pursuits, officials at the Hamilton School District, northwest of Brookfield, turned to a structure that might strike some as a cross between Camp Randall and a pole barn.

“For a while there, every school was building these big gyms. Everyone realized, though, those are $20 million projects,” said Shannon Metoxen, senior project manager at J.P. Cullen & Sons Inc. which has its main office in Janesville. “This (Hamilton athletic facility) is … more economical, meets the needs of the district and it’s multi-purpose.”

Even though the district’s student population had increased by about 25 percent over the course of a 17-year period — bringing the total number to about 4,450 – it was hard to come by support for big, pricy, non-classroom projects, especially on the heels of a recession. Metoxen, working with Jeffrey Grove, grounds manager for the Hamilton district, discovered an appealing option in a sort of metal-shed building that is more commonly found in the South. The price of the project was about $4 million.

Yet, despite the benefits of the relatively low price, the choice meant that school officials and contractors would have to contend with one of the biggest obstacles to come with attempting to put up an unfamiliar type of building: “Being able to share what were thinking of doing,” as Metoxen put it.

Bryan Ruud, Hamilton assistant superintendent of business services, said district officials weren’t alone in having to do their homework on what it meant to put up a metal building that contained more than 400,000 square feet and that was of a type not found elsewhere in Wisconsin.

The designs were assembled relying on practical and aesthetic advice culled from metal pre-fabrication subcontractors, school officials, project managers at Cullen and architects at Plunkett Raysich Architects LLP, Milwaukee. The low-lying winter sun necessitated installing special glazing on windows to prevent teen golfers, quarterbacks or softball pitchers from becoming dazzled and distracted by incoming light. Acoustic buffers were used to cut down on the din from athletes.

A mix of field markings and existing turf helped reduce surface expenses. Because the project was undertaken in Wisconsin and not the sunny South, heating systems were installed at various places around the structure.

“On paper, a metal building might seem like just that. In this case, it’s not necessarily true. They all have different aspects, different pluses and minuses,” Metoxen said.

Before the metal structure was even chosen, Cullen project managers had managed a year ahead of time to head off a possible source of trouble by having a temporary road paved. This step prevented the regular bus service offered to students from being disrupted and, when construction eventually started, gave crews a buffer from the school’s daily operations.

The metal athletic building may very well be the first of its kind in the Dairy State. And, because it presents an inexpensive and efficient alternative, it could also be quick to catch on.

Ruud said neighboring rivals have already expressed “envy” on tours. He also said new parents have told guidance counselors that the athletic building is a top reason they are considering moving into the steadily expanding district.



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