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Green Arena

IMPs give Washington, D.C. pro basketball teams a sustainable home

Dc Arena Nov18 6
Photo courtesy of © Brad Feinknopf/feinknopf

Washington, D.C. has a new hoops home for the district’s three professional basketball teams. The Entertainment and Sports Arena (ESA) opened in September 2018 and serves as the practice facility for the NBA’s Washington Wizards and the home arena for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics and the NBA G League’s Capital City Go-Go. It will also host concerts, boxing and other events.

The new LEED Silver-certified, 120,000-square-foot arena can seat 4,200 people. The $65 million project is expected to attract close to 400,000 fans annually. The ESA is located in St. Elizabeth’s East, a National Historic Landmark in D.C.’s Congress Heights neighborhood. Several red brick buildings that once served as a psychiatric hospital are now in the midst of a massive redevelopment project. From the beginning, architects (a joint venture of Washington, D.C.-based Michael Marshall Design Inc. and Detroit-based ROSSETTI) knew they wanted to blend the new arena into the historic neighborhood. “ROSSETTI led the initial program planning of the project while developing all the interior design portions of the building and Michael Marshall Design developed the exterior design portions,” says Jon Wakeman, senior technical designer at ROSSETTI.


Originally, the plan called for terra cotta panels to tie the new facility in with the brick buildings in the neighborhood. But after seeing the cost of using terra cotta, the architects changed the design to utilize insulated metal panels (IMPs). That change saved an estimated $100,000 to $200,000. According to Don Keppler, AIA, senior architect at Michael Marshall Design, in addition to the cost savings, IMPs were unanimously chosen after a thorough design team analysis of available exterior enclosure systems was conducted looking at thermal performance, impact resistance, sound muffling, air/water infiltration resistance, fire resistance and finish options, combined with a strong recommendation from the general contractor team of Washington, D.C.-based Smoot Gilbane Construction. The IMP installer was Wheeling, W.Va.-based Kalkreuth Roofing and Sheet Metal.

Photo courtesy of Jay Stearns

Deland, Fla.-based Kingspan Insulated Panels North America supplied more than 53,000 square feet of its Optimo panels for the arena’s exterior cladding. “One of our goals for this project, as it is for many of our projects, was to help the building owner meet the requirements for their LEED certification, which in this case was Silver,” says Brent Trenga, building technology director at Kingspan Insulated Panels. “[Also], our design team worked with the architect to come up with the perfect shades of red in order to blend the building into the neighborhood.”

IMPs lower building energy costs due to enhanced building performance and conservation of energy, prevent moisture intrusion and help to improve thermal comfort of building occupants. “IMPs improve the energy efficiency and contribute to the sustainability of a building,” Wakeman says. “The ESA demonstrates a 24.9 percent savings on energy cost improvement against baseline via ASHRAE 90.1-2007 energy simulation. IMP components, steel faces and polyurethane foam core contain recycled content. In addition, as an all-in-one product, insulated metal panels offer faster installation, less construction waste and reduced maintenance in building operations.”

With world-class athletes, teams expect excellent uncompromised health, conditioning and top performance from players. Therefore, “it was of paramount importance to create and maintain an ultra-safe, healthy environment for them free from concerns pertaining to mold, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and other harmful airborne pollutants,” Keppler says. “The IMPs more than satisfied this requirement perfectly.”

Washington, D.C.-based Innovo Construction installed the curtainwall from Oldcastle Building- Envelope, Santa Monica, Calif. Moxy Misc Metals, Washington, D.C., was a miscellaneous metal installer for the arena, and Bosworth Steel Erectors, Dallas, was its structural steel installer. Charlotte, N.C.-based SteelFab was the steel fabricator.

Photo courtesy of Jay Stearns


Covering the majority of the building’s lower roofs, an extensive green roof retains rainfall within the building footprint. “The non-green roof areas of the building are designed to convey via an internal storm riser system to the surrounding at-grade stormwater facilities located in the adjacent the players’ parking lot,” Wakeman says.

Also, “As a final means of on-site retention and the most downstream stormwater facility, captured rainwater from the nearby bio-retentions and permeable pavement eventually drain to a network of infiltration pipes hidden underneath the player’s parking lot,” Keppler says. “This infiltration system is made up of multiple perforated pipes that are designed to store the lion’s share of stormwater run-off for the project and allow the water to percolate back into the soils beneath.”

Ultra-high efficiency plumbing fixtures throughout the facility reach a 30 percent reduction over baseline for domestic water usage to attain the arena’s water-saving goals. A high-efficiency HVAC system which included variable refrigerant flow (VRF) technology produces high-efficiency ratings. A central lighting control system provides enhanced flexibility and controllability of light fixtures and shading solutions. The lighting power density for the building is under 0.50 W/SF which is approximately 40 percent better than code.

“Specification of highly durable building products and materials with high recycled content, regional manufacture and extraction, and low-emissions of VOCs demonstrate a commitment to improved indoor air quality as well as reduced impact of construction material and natural resources,” Wakeman says.

Overall, Keppler believes the arena shows that, “Even when building in historically significant areas, contemporary structures can succeed if intelligent planning is combined with artistic vision, and executed by seasoned professionals all sharing the common goal of excellence.”

Photo courtesy of Jay Stearns

Photo courtesy of Jay Stearns