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Winnemucca Welcome Center

A Boys and Girls club receives a bright welcome in a small town

Winnemucca Boys Girls Dec18 7
Photos: Vance Fox

Too often, people in construction face resistance and backlash for projects that groups don’t want in their neighborhood or community. But the team that delivered the Boys and Girls Club of Winnemucca Pennington Facility, Winnemucca, Nev., experienced a different reaction. “What struck me in Winnemucca was the way the community rallied behind the project,” says Eric Roberts, AIA, principal of SH Architecture, Las Vegas. “We couldn’t get it up fast enough for them. Everybody wanted it open. They were so excited about it.”

Winnemucca has a population of 7,800 and now it has a 36,244-square-foot Boys and Girls Club that includes a gymnasium with an elevated running track, theater, office space and meeting rooms. The main part of the building is the gymnasium and in front of it rises two, lean-to buildings. According to Jamin Jackson, project manager for J&M Steel Solutions, Lehi, Utah, erecting the steel was complicated because of the details around the connections between the buildings.

Also, because of the funding for the project, there was a strong push to keep the cost down, which meant Jackson estimated the project several times, and even after construction there were changes being made. “I built it 10 different times in my head,” he says.

A Great Team

Jackson points to the strength of the team in making the project come together. “We’ve had projects less complicated but probably more of a challenge,” he says. “CORE Construction [the general contractor, based in Reno, Nev.] looked to us as the erector and asked for good solutions. We worked together, figured out the engineering and got it done. Sometimes these projects can be twice the cost and twice the headache.”

Jackson led a crew of between 10 and 14 guys, and they spent about 17 weeks on the job. Because they were traveling approximately 400 miles to the site, they decided to work 10 days on the job, and travel home for four days in a row, instead of returning home every weekend. That reduced the amount of travel, and Jackson says, “we got better production out of the guys.”

An essential part of the team was Michael Clay Corp., Winnemucca, the dealer for the preengineered metal building that was supplied by Nucor Building Systems, Waterloo, Ind. Mike Sheppard is the founder and president. “After pulling the team together,” he explains, “I said in lieu of getting three bids from three metal building contractors to get the best price, what if we work with an open book and pull together three proposals from three companies. It’s a fairly complex structure with a lot of articulation. Nucor put the mezzanines into the system, and it became apparent Nucor was really committed.”

Sheppard offers an example of how the team came together as a group to make decisions. “There were huge beams that had to land in certain places,” he says, for them to work around the articulated sidewalls. “On the fly, we realized the elevator wouldn’t fit in the notch available. So it had to be field modified.” That kind of thing happens on construction sites all the time, but it’s the ability of the team to come together to resolve the issue without rancor that differentiates an enjoyable project from a nightmare.

Site Perfect

The structure sits in the middle of an open expanse and can be seen from a distance. The bright, blue canopy catches the eye, and the shed roofs rise in opposition, creating a tension pierced by the vertical stone work. “Some of our ideas came from visiting the site,” says Roberts. “You see the mountains all around and try to hearken to that. The verticality comes from that. We wanted to have the building sit in its place and pay homage to the incredible landscape.”

A covered entryway was in the plans from the beginning. “We knew there could be a good amount of kids out there that could be waiting,” Roberts says. “We wanted to keep them out of the elements.” By the time the team settled on the final details, the steel canopy covered with a standard B roof deck and fabricated locally was installed entirely separate from the building.

All the participants in the project speak to how much they enjoyed working with each other and how comfortable the working relationship was. Even though every project has difficulties and tough decisions, on projects running smoothly, happy circumstances often arise. Probably the most notable of these is the masonry. Sheppard says, “The intent was to paint split-faced block. To save money, they just picked out remainders and seconds from the yard.” The masons laid the block without concern about its color or shade. The result, says Jackson, is everybody who saw it enjoyed the randomness of the block pattern and it remained unpainted, giving further interest to an entryway that was already enticing.

The predominant industries in Winnemucca are mining and oil. “I haven’t come across anybody,” says Jackson, “who didn’t think it was a cool project and for a good cause. They’ve got so many people working in the oil fields who all have families. Sometimes when you’re working on a mine site, doing what you’ve got to do for a living, you don’t have those facilities that those kids can have now.”