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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

URI marks completion of structural steel work
at Convocation Center

KINGSTON, R.I. -- July 27, 2001 -- With about a year left until the $54 million University of Rhode Island Convocation Center opens its
Hoisting final beam. Photos by D. Lavallee
Topping off
doors, ironworkers today hoisted the final steel beam into place for the facility’s roof.

Last week marked the erection of the last of the four, 65-ton, 200-foot main roof trusses over the arena area. The north side of the building is slated to be closed in by mid-August.

In addition, masonry work for the exterior walls of new athletic offices at the center has been completed.

Today’s installation of that final beam marks the completion of the structural steel work, which began Feb. 12.
Workers connect the beam into place.
"This is an exciting day because in four-and-half months, we’ve seen this area transformed from a barren parcel of dirt and rocks to the home of URI’s newest architectural gem," said Kathleen Mallon, URI’s director of strategic planning and institutional research and the chair of the Convocation Center Building Committee. "In just a few short months we’ve seen the beginnings of a building’s skeleton proceed to the point where we can envision what a wonderful venue this will be for athletic events and major cultural and entertainment programs."

Ironworkers have already begun installing roof decking at the south end of the building where the first roof trusses were erected.

"The next big step will be to enclose the building," Mallon said. "We’ll be proceeding with the roofing and masonry, and we’ll be hanging the mechanical systems in the building, including pipes and ducts. Fire proofing of the structural steel will also be completed."

As work on the structure continues, Paul M. DePace, URI’s director of capital projects and a member of the building committee, said the construction of the entrance plazas at the north and south ends of the building is under way. "We are in the process of doing the grading and site work," DePace said.

DePace added that work on the precast concrete seating risers and remaining steel work should be completed by the first week in August.

Masonry work is also well under way. The exterior of the event level (first level) of the building will feature material that resembles the granite used in the buildings on the Kingston Campus’ quadrangle. The concourse and suite (second and third) levels will feature brickwork selected to match historic Keaney Gymnasium.

Work on the arena’s three stair towers, which are designed to resemble lighthouses, in keeping with the state’s and the University’s nautical heritage, is also proceeding.

DePace praised the work of the various crews, saying they have kept the project on schedule and have remained focused on quality and safety. He also said the University has benefited from the tireless work of Larry Bacher, of the Gilbane Building Co., the program manager on the project.

The hiring of Gilbane as the program manager marks the first time the state and University have used a program manager for a major project.

"It’s clear that we made the right decision in bringing in Gilbane because the company has provided the necessary resources and expertise to keep this project moving," DePace said. "Larry has been a valuable resource for all of us."

The project remains on budget, and the University has raised 80 percent of its $15 million private fund-raising goal.

"We’ve raised $12.2 million from 510 donors, and we have a number of additional major gift proposals being considered by prospects," said Robert M. Beagle, vice president for University Advancement.

"Our volunteers and staff have done an extraordinary job of generating gifts of all sizes, and have done so while two other building campaigns have been conducted. The project itself is an impressive one; our alumni and friends are excited about it. We are excited about the potential of reaching our goal."

The Convocation Center will seat 8,000 for men’s and women’s basketball games and 9,000 for non-athletic events, including concerts, lectures, career fairs, and University events.

The 200,000 square-foot-building will stand 86 feet high. The structure is also designed with tall walls of glass windows. The event level will house the arena and event floor space; the main concourse will provide access to spectator facilities, including general seating, restrooms, and concessions; the suite level will provide a venue for prime viewing and food service. Two lobbies will be provided on the ground level at the ma

jor entrances to direct the flow of spectators up to the main concourse seating.
URI long ago outgrew its largest venue, Keaney Gymnasium, completed in 1953 for a student body of 2,183. The University now enrolls more than 14,000.

The new building will be readily accessible both to students and the broader Rhode Island community. The Convocation Center is a significant part of URI’s overall effort to upgrade its facilities for the benefit of students and community members alike.

For Information: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-2116

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