Firm name: Bridgers + Paxton Consulting Engineers, Inc.
Project building name and location: University of New Mexico Pit, Albuquerque , N.M.
Type of building and type of project: Education/Sports Arena, Renovation
Project completion date and project duration: Project completed: Fall 2010
Engineering challenges and solutions:
This 45-year old basketball arena is rated as one of the top ten sports venues in the country. Primary challenges included improving the fan experience, completely replacing the MEP systems, upgrading life safety systems to modern standards, and achieving LEED silver certification on this 18-month project without interrupting the scheduled basketball season in winter and within tight budget constraints. To accomplish this we added concessions, restrooms, skyboxes and lounges; provided all new scoreboards, ribbon boards, large screen monitors and sound system; provided new air handling systems with evaporative cooling and direct-fired heating; provided all new fire alarm, fire suppression and smoke control systems and widened exit aisles; and provided a new emergency power system.
The smoke control system was a particular challenge, as the design fire was 28.5 MW, the arena ceiling is just ten feet above the mezzanine floor level, and the existing roof did not have the capacity to support any additional weight. By working closely with UNM’s life safety consultant we designed a smoke control system to keep the exit pathways clear of smoke for 25 minutes, twice the time necessary to safely evacuate the building.