Drawing inspiration from ice and steel blades, Chicago Metallic® Corporation created a custom metal ceiling for the Buffalo Sabres' hockey team dressing room in the renovated First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y.
Gypsum Systems, Inc. of Elma, N.Y., served as the project's installation contractor, as guided by design-build team Cannon Design and Cannon Construction Services of Grand Island, N.Y. The project team's creative and collaborative approach to this complex ceiling project earned a 2011 Construction Excellence Gold Award from the Ceilings & Interior Systems Construction Association (CISCA).
Part of a larger, fast-paced renovation of the First Niagara Center facility, the team dressing room was one of the most important spaces, according to Frank Cravotta, Buffalo Sabres' director of creative services. He explains, "We needed a unique way to express the Buffalo Sabres' identity. The space had to inspire our current players, and present an impressive and exciting image to our recruits. …Our task was to deliver a $9 million, full-facility renovation in just four and a half months."
Cannon Construction Services provided the construction management and the design using a design-build delivery model for the major renovation of team rooms and associated player spaces for the Buffalo Sabres. After seeing the spaces of other National Hockey League (NHL) teams and stadiums, Cravotta knew that he wanted something dramatically different.
Cravotta relied on Antonio Borgese, Cannon Design's vice president and project designer, to present something extraordinary. "No one has seen anything like it in the NHL," says Borgese. His first departure from traditional locker and dressing room designs was conceiving an oval-shaped space, rather than the typical rectangular confines of other teams. "With the oval shape, there are no awkward points, no players in corners."
The elliptically shaped, metal, custom ceiling mimics the contours of the ice arena using Chicago Metallic's SpanAir™ Torsion Spring ceiling panels and Infinity™ Perimeter Trim. A circular lantern with an illuminated team logo glows as the ceiling's centerpiece.
"We were looking for a way to further accentuate the lantern," Borgese continues. "Everything from translucent to opaque ceiling panels was considered. Then, we developed the idea of perforations in the panels to create the look of light radiating from the logo. Our concepts advanced to include the use of metal panels to capture the cool feeling of ice with a sleek, finished look similar to steel skate blades.".
Customizing the perforated panels with the desired moiré light effect required expertise and artistry. "Combining 100 years of experience with custom metal ceilings and the latest technological tools, we used 3-D modeling and precise shop drawings to perfect and document the design," says Brian Valdez, Chicago Metallic's product manager.
"There was a lot of dimensioning that needed to be worked out, and the shop drawings had to be very precise," echoes Norm Adsitt, Gypsum Systems' project manager. "The outside perimeter is egg-shaped, while the center section is round. This was a very technical fabrication and installation challenge. Chicago Metallic did an excellent job of getting it done."
Valdez agrees that the visual effect was critical. He also notes that the ceiling system needed to be functional and allow easy access to the fluorescent lighting fixtures above the panels. "Our SpanAir Plank Metal Ceiling System with a torsion spring design was chosen to accomplish the task. The planks fill the wide, spanning spaces and are suspended from a heavy-duty T-bar type grid. The grid is concealed from view and the torsion spring panels allow easy access at any point in the ceiling."
The facility's renovations finished in time for the start of training camp. The condensed schedule began in mid-March 2011 when the Buffalo Sabres' season ended. The construction period was completed in only four months, just one-third the time of a typical project this size. According to Cannon Construction Services, "fast-tracking was accomplished through innovative construction packaging and phasing, and by working closely with contractors to minimize complications and respond quickly to field issues."
Valdez adds, "With this collaborative approach, the dressing room's custom ceiling design required no compromises to attain both the desired function and aesthetic. Taking on the difficult challenge to create a dressing room unlike any other in the National Hockey League proved to be a triumph for the Buffalo Sabres."
"It's uplifting and exciting," praises Cravotta. "In conjunction with the overall facility renovation, the room creates a great experience for the players. The ceiling is the highlight of the design. It's a custom work of art."
The Buffalo Sabres' players and team owners have added their rave reviews to Cravotta's. The team finished its 2011 season in fifth place for in the Eastern Conference, with a 9-1-12 record at home, selling out all 12 games in the Niagara Center's renovated arena.