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Constraint Drives Design Innovation - Bentley Multi-Purpose Arena

09.26.17 / Victor Agran | Alexa Asakiewicz | Jan Taylor

When ARC was designing a new Multipurpose Arena for Bentley University and home for their Division One hockey program, the design team was assigned a challenging task: In order to meet the overall project budget, the entire exterior cladding system had to be developed at a cost of $45/sf,  which excluded conventional material options like brick, metal panel and fiber cement.  Following a period of intense research, ARC developed a strategy for the building’s exterior envelope using Insulated Precast Concrete Sandwich Panels.

Precast Panels were the ideal solution: prefabricated with two layers of concrete sandwiched over high performance rigid insulation, they could be shipped to the site ready for placement and assembled with a crane and a small installation team.  The embedded insulation and thermal mass of the concrete met the strict requirements of the Massachussets Energy Code and provided a complete, sealed and weatherproof enclosure for the building. More importantly, concrete is an extraordinarily versatile material and created an opportunity to customize the facade surface to conceive an innovative public face for Bentley University’s Lower Campus.

Movement, speed and change of direction on the ice served as the inspiration for early, abstract ideas. These led to a series of facade studies that explored a wall surface that was kinetic and alluded to speed and motion.

Skate Marks on Ice

Preliminary Surface Study

Using 3D parametric modeling and 3D printing, ARC developed a range of facade studies that examined concepts of speed, rhythm, light, shadow and surface inflection.

Preliminary Surface Study

3D Print Study

As the studies evolved, ARC worked with Gate Precast in North Carolina to develop the precast surface using different concrete aggregates, as well as mica silica to give the facade variety, depth of color and vitality.  The design of the precast surface also respected specific requirements of the mold-making process to simplify construction and maximize economy.

Further refinements of the wall design focused on coordinating the precast surface modulation to develop visual continuity and connect different facade elements across the entire building.

Surface Modulation Study

Surface Study

Surface Study

Once the final panel profile was established, Gate Precast provided final large scale mockups for approval and fabrication.  

Installation of the panels began in June 2017 and proceeded rapidly, with each facade taking a week to install.

Light and Shadow on Precast Surface

Panel Installation

The constructed precast surface is everything ARC and Bentley University imagined it could be: dynamic and endlessly variable depending on the season, weather and time of day.

Light and Shadow on Precast Surface

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