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PE/Event Center project update

Air-handling unit replacement requires team to adjust project timeline; NCAA Division II Volleyball Tournament will continue as scheduled.

By Lindsey Coulter

November 19, 2019

PE Events Center bleachers and gym.Work continues to advance on the PE/Event Center renovation project. The project, which kicked off in April, will overhaul and modernize a number of existing spaces, concentrating on first floor restrooms and locker rooms and the gymnasium.

The majority of work — which also includes ADA accessibility improvements, lighting and safety upgrades, and the introduction of gender-neutral spaces — has been successfully completed, leaving only the replacement of a critical rooftop air-handling unit that serves the renovated areas. The unit’s replacement is also one of the most technical aspects of the project, according to Jonathan McCann, director of Planning, Design and Construction within the Metropolitan State University of Denver Department of Facilities.

Air-handling unit replacement projects generally have long lead times, McCann explained. As such, the project team — including MSU Denver Facilities, Auraria Higher Education Center facilities staff, architect Perkins and Will, and construction manager Howell Construction — identified this step as a possible impediment, as the pace of air-handling unit replacements are largely determined by the unit supplier.

“This piece was one of the biggest risks to the success of the project,” McCann said. “We developed a contingency plan early on revolving around the ability to use the existing, but aging, air handling unit to temporarily serve the newly renovated spaces, should the new unit not be available on our preferred timeline.”

After discussions with the building’s stakeholders, the team opted to modify the existing air-handling unit in the interim, allowing for installation of the new unit Dec. 16-Feb. 9. This will not affect the NCAA Division II Volleyball Tournament in December, which will be hosted in the newly renovated spaces in PE/ Event Center as planned.

Based on the revised timeline, the team then consulted with building stakeholders to determine if the renovated first floor spaces should be briefly opened and operationalized for the campus community, only to be taken offline a month later for the new unit installation. Ultimately, the group determined the affected spaces will remain offline until the project has wrapped up in February to avoid confusion and inconvenience related to managing the re-opening and re-closing of spaces. However, the gymnasium and second floor locker rooms and bathrooms will remain open and available to users.

“The team spent a lot of time staying on top of this issue,” McCann said. “The schedule was extremely aggressive, and Howell Construction in particular has done a fantastic job on the project.”

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