The Georgia Tech Athletic Association selected JE Dunn to provide renovations to the existing football locker room located in the North End Zone of Historic Bobby Dodd Stadium at Grant Field. The project called for very high level finish upgrades and was delivered under a tight, non-negotiable schedule.
The space, totaling over 8,000 SF, includes 116 new, custom-built lockers, a new prefinished metal ceiling with Georgia Tech branding, LED lighting throughout as well as imported tile, new sinks, toilets and showers with high-end hardware. The space also includes a new hydrotherapy area with cold and hot plunge pools. Multiple new digital displays were also installed for versatility and branding opportunities.
Everyone on the team, including trade partners, knew that the schedule was very aggressive and no wiggle room existed. We worked with all trade partners, as well as the design team at CBRE|Heery to pre-plan all work that was put in place, proactively identifying constraints. This pre-planning helped us to overcome the largest schedule hurdle that the project threw at us, poor subsurface conditions upon excavation for the new plunge pools. We were able to successfully re-sequence other scopes and continue work elsewhere on the project while we worked with a geotechnical engineer to formulate a plan for tackling this challenge. As a result, the project did not fall behind and was still delivered on time.
While an interior renovation may seem like a somewhat straightforward project from the surface, it is important to keep in mind that this renovation took place within a historic structure, Bobby Dodd Stadium, that remained occupied throughout construction. This was something that our team kept in mind at all times. We were very careful not to disturb surrounding areas, and when challenges arose with subsurface conditions, we worked closely with Georgia Tech to meet the challenge head-on and quickly identify solutions.
In six months’ time, JE Dunn completely transformed Georgia Tech’s football locker room. The level of finish of every component is very high end, bringing Georgia Tech’s facility to the highest level in college football. This is very important not only to player retention, but also to recruiting. No existing finishes were left from the existing locker room space; all antiquated materials were updated to state-of-the art products and equipment that rival any similar facility in the country. The project also included upgraded mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection systems. Working within Georgia Tech’s budget constraints, we leveraged “stock” components to execute the custom design from CBRE|Heery. The ceiling system includes an eye-catching interlocked “GT” logo that features Georgia Tech’s trademark hexagonal pattern that is used throughout the school’s athletics branding.
The ceiling involved a great deal of pre-planning, measurement and fabrication by Hunter Douglas Architectural, who provided both ceilings and walls within the space. JE Dunn leveraged lessons learned from installing a very similar ceiling system in another project nominated within this awards program for Delta Air Lines at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
All interior systems and finish upgrades were delivered in only six months, despite challenges encountered when excavating for the two new plunge pools in the hydrotherapy area. Long lead items included spa tile from Europe and custom mirrors from China. With over 12 weeks of lead time, JE Dunn managed this process, ensuring these key items arrived on time.
No soil borings or existing conditions assessments were performed prior to construction in the area where the hydrotherapy pools were to be located. This was an area where multiple development projects had taken place over the past 100 years, including most recently, a renovation to the stadium in 2004.
Very early into excavation, we began finding concrete and uncompacted soil. These variables caused issues in getting to a fully excavated pool. In fact, we ended up removing around one quarter of a buried swimming pool that was never fully removed. We also removed asphalt and other debris, including car parts. After we removed this debris, we discovered uncompacted, soft soil that still prohibited us from achieving full excavation for the pools; we were not able to meet proper soil bearing pressure for a pool. It was at this time that Georgia Tech brought in a geotechnical engineer and JE Dunn consulted with multiple deep foundation contractors to research the issue. This allowed us to quickly arrive at a solution concurrently, rather than waiting on the engineer to tell us what to do. The geotechnical report and the deep foundation contractors recommended helical pier foundations. With this solution in mind, we thought the problem was solved.
Excavation for the cold plunge pool took 16 helical piers with a thickening mat at the foundation. However, during excavation for the hot plunge pool, we continued to encounter unforeseen items, including a 10-foot brick storm drain. Items such as this made installation of helical piers for the hot spa unfeasible. At this time, we went back to the drawing board, bringing in a hydrovac truck to remove over three feet of unsuitable soils below the hot spa area and backfilled this area with gravel, all the while remaining mindful that we were indeed working directly under Bobby Dodd Stadium. The gravel backfill was effective, at last allowing for the proper compaction for the installation of the hot plunge pool.