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Bernard Johnson Coliseum gets a facelift

image Inside look of the renovated Bernard Johnson Coliseum, Sam Houston State University

HOUSTON - When Charles N. White founded White Construction Company (WCC) in 1971, he understood that the best way to achieve his clients’ goals was by sharing their vision of success, not just in the terms of the final project, but at every single stage of the process. With a strategic mix of both private and public clients spanning several market sectors including corporate office, corrections, education, healthcare, high-end residential and multi-family housing, historic preservation, religious, retail, senior living and more, they remain a family business.

    WCC was sought after to help modernize Sam Houston State University’s Bernard Johnson Coliseum, including significant architectural and mechanical renovations. The coliseum, which was originally completed in 1976 hosts a variety of sports activities and university events including graduations, concerts, campus organization events, summer camps, and family shows.
    The estimated 90,000sf-facility took five months to renovate at an estimated cost of $11,500,000. Concrete, HVAC AHU’s and associated steel piping systems, metal studs, gypsum drywall, paint, tile, flooring, millwork, 6,200 coliseum seats and an athletic wood flooring system were the primary construction materials used throughout the project.
    Renovation of the HVAC system proved to be very challenging. The mechanical space for the coliseum is 60ft above the floor of the facility. The space was 3,500ft in circumference and only 10ft wide. Access was limited to three small doors only 3ft wide and 7ft high. Removal and installation of 10ton air conditioning units the size of a pickup truck and 21-ft pipe lengths were daunting. Special scaffolding was custom designed and installed to allow safe access for people and construction materials using cranes for hoisting the heavy bulky equipment from the floor of the coliseum. Four to 10-ft wide permanent access doors were installed to accommodate this construction as well as future maintenance.
    This was an incredibly difficult fast-paced renovation in extremely tight spaces on a busy, crowded college campus. The graduations, games, concerts and meetings could not be halted. Complex logistics were necessary to keep the heartbeat of this campus and community strong, and to enable the school’s basketball team to begin its season in the beautifully renovated facility, avoiding the enormous expense of renting additional space.
    Aside from general renovation challenges, the project included several safety challenges. With multiple crews working in dangerous high and confined spaces, special scaffolding and lift systems were designed and installed. Specialized training was developed and implemented from project start to finish. It required “all teams on the field” at all times to finish this facility while community events were still being conducted. Each and every player had to keep his/her eye on the ball at all times and remain laser focused on the client’s goal. The result was a huge win for Sam Houston State University, for WCC, and for the Huntsville community. SCORE!
    The construction team, made up of the owner, user, designers/architects/engineers, subcontractors and construction manager at risk (CMAR) worked together during the pre-construction phase to develop a design, budget, and schedule that was coordinated with the owner’s facility schedule.  Careful planning, developed months in advance of construction, was the key to success for this project.  Communication between Project Executive Jim Snyder, Project Manager Brian Brown, Project Superintendent Devin Hill, Architect PBK Sports, and the rest of the construction team helped minimize unforeseen adverse impacts to the budget and schedule.  WCC is proud to have been the CMAR on this project and thrilled the team’s hard work earned this project a 2018 ABC Houston Excellence in Construction ICE Award.
    White Construction Company is a full-service general contractor with offices in Panama City, FL; Ridgeland, MS; Austin and Houston, TX. -cmw


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Carol Wiatrek meditor@constructionnews.net