Fans at the Carolina-Georgia Tech game Sept. 18 got a good look at progress on the new Blue Zone facility in the east end zone of Kenan Stadium. The concrete for the second level has been laid and by mid-October the third level will have been established.
"Our challenge is to shoehorn more than two years' worth of work into about 12 or 13 months," says David Philyaw, an assistant VP for T.A. Loving, the general contractor. "We've done projects at East Carolina, N.C. State, various jobs with [architect] Glenn Corley. But we've done nothing quite this size in such a short amount of time."
The construction of the Blue Zone premium seating and student-athletic academic center began last spring with preliminary site work and ratcheted up in earnest in mid-June as wrecking crews demolished the original 1927 Kenan Field House. By mid-August, two tower cranes measuring 214 and 193 feet high had been erected and pilings began rising from the ground.
"I think fans will be amazed at how much progress they'll see from game to game," says Bob Ferguson, a T.A. Loving VP who manages the project. "The key for us is to get the structure up and dried in as quickly as possible so we can start on the finishes and take the time to do them right."
The project has a number of challenges. The construction operation is confined in a small space and access is limited to the tunnel in the Rams Head Deck and a new road cut through the UNC Hospitals complex, north of Morrison Dormitory and into the stadium on the southeast side. There is no parking unless workers want to pay $1.50 an hour to park in the adjacent deck, so most laborers are shuttled on and off-campus.
"We tell all our subs that everything delivered here is 'JIT'--just in time," Ferguson says. "The truck rolls in, it's off-loaded, the load's put into the building and the truck leaves. There's no storage space."
Kenan Stadium has long been known for its cozy setting within a forest of pines in the middle of the UNC campus. Campus administrators, architects and construction officials have put considerable thought and effort into preserving as much of the natural environment as possible.
"We have taken every precaution and all the extra care possible to remove as few a number of trees as possible," says Ferguson. "We understand how important that is in Kenan Stadium. Anywhere a tree could be saved, it's been saved."
"At some construction sites, the approach is, 'Let's just take trees down,'" adds Ken Gerrard, Loving's head of business development. "Not here. People have no idea how much thought and care was given to the trees."