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Undulating Exterior

Aluminum composite material fins completely transform concrete arena

Nassau Dec17 9
Photos: Jamey Price Photography, courtesy of 3A Composites USA

A giant ring of undulating fins around Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y., make it difficult to recall what the original building underneath looked like. It began as a concrete sports arena constructed in 1972. When it reopened in April, Nassau Coliseum had a new architectural identity and use as a multi-functional performance venue. The judges for the 2017 Metal Construction News Building and Roofing Awards were impressed by the building’s extraordinary transformation. They commended the modern design’s variation of simple forms and recognized it with a Judges Award.

To execute the design, SHoP Architects PC in New York City created highly detailed, three-dimensional, digital models based on laser scans of the original building. Several factors made precise measurements, fabrication and installation essential. First, all the components needed to be produced in factories, where fabricators used the models to generate production files. Second, during installation, the façade was built in assembled sections, which limited adjustments on the job site. And third, compounding the project’s complexity, 30,000 individual metal components including 4,700 angled fins were used.

Factory Fabrication

Vlad Sobot is president at Sobotec Ltd. in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. His company fabricated the fins with 225,000 square feet of Statesville, N.C.-based 3A Composites USA Inc.’s 0.02-inch Alucobond PLUS aluminum composite material (ACM).

“Every single one [of the fins] was different, and every single end condition on each one of those was a different cut because they were going through a three-dimensional curvature, both up and down the X- and Y-axis, and Z-axis as well,” Sobot says.

John Cerone, LEED, is associate principal director of virtual design and construction at SHoP Architects. “We knew this would be a complicated folding and routing process,” Cerone says. “We wanted clean lines and several fields of interest to look at as you walk closer to the individual fins.”

Sectional Installation

To develop a support structure for the fins to attach to the concrete, SHoP Architects, Sobotec and Gary, Ind.-based Crown Corr Inc., the installer, coordinated with DSI Spaceframes Inc. in Addison, Ill. Crews assembled the space-frame and fins in sections, or bays, between the original building’s concrete columns. Oprea was impressed the entire project was built based on digital models. “One entire bay, which was roughly 32 feet wide and 50 feet tall, that assembly was hoisted and attached to the building,” he says. “You’re just building it on the ground per the drawings, hoisting it, and it looks like it was always supposed to be there.”