March 09, 2017 Lauren Perry Events, General News

Kempsville Community Recreation Center AIA Hard Hat tour

As the new recreation center nears completion, HBA’s Mike Ross led a tour of the Kempsville Community Recreation Center on February 6th, 2017 for local architects and engineers. HBA teamed with AIA Hampton Roads as part of their “Hard Hat Tours” which allows licensed architects to continue their education by observing unique construction challenges faced by other local architects, and young aspiring architects to gain valuable first hand experience on a construction site.

Learning objectives for this tour, included:

  • Exterior Wall Construction – HBA used Trespa panels as a rain screen, which provides the first line of defense against rain. This method creates an air chamber between the screen and insulation that provides an opportunity for pressure equalization, protecting the insulation from wind driven rain. The Trespa panels are a unique product in that they look like wood, but are actually a type of high pressure laminate composed of fibers held together by resin.
  • Timber Construction using steel connections – One of the driving design opportunities behind Kemspville Recreation Center is the use of timber construction. Not only does timber construction work well structurally, it provides a warm aesthetic look that most people prefer to steel. Wood is perceived as a more residential, cozy feel while steel can feel quite industrial and cold. The timber construction at Kempsville Recreation Center is made possible by using glu-laminated beams. These beams are actually comprised of thinner strips of wood held together by glue, which are fabricated under closely monitored conditions at a factory. This method not only creates a stronger beam, but it is a much more sustainable practice of using wood. Glue-laminated beams use several smaller pieces of wood, which is more sustainable because it allows the use of smaller trees, or smaller pieces of wood. It is much more difficult to get one, large chunk of wood, as it can only come from one, very large, very old tree. Using smaller pieces means that more wood planks are able to be used from a single tree, rather than wasted.
  • Timber Construction held together by steel – One of the best ways to connect timber is using steel connections. However, this certainly detracts from the warm, residential feel that we were going for architecturally. Our solution was to whenever possible, hide the steel connections within the timbers, so that only small pieces of steel were shown. This allowed us to take advantage of steel’s structural properties, while still keeping the architectural look we wanted.
  • Curtain Wall Construction around Entry – Anytime you have a very large span of glass that is subject to shear and wind loads, it needs to be done in curtain wall. Curtain wall systems look a lot like storefront systems, except the vertical members all act as columns. These columns are braced to provide structural stability, which then allows us to use large pieces of glass to create a modern, open look!
  • Pool Construction Process – If you’re like most people, you’d guess that the plaster in the bottom of a pool should be allowed to dry fully before it is filled with whatever. However, that isn’t the case! The process for building a swimming pool is to first repair any cracks, and perform a leak test. You wouldn’t want all the water leaking out of your nice new pool. When the leak test is complete, you would then plaster the pool, and surprisingly, immediately fill it with water. The plaster that is used in swimming pools is designed to cure in water. If it was not filled with water immediately, it would cure at a much lower strength and hydration, which would mean it wouldn’t last as long!
  • Gym Floor Construction – While touring the building, we saw that the floor finish installers have circled areas that are not level/plumb, in the gymnasium area. If an area is out of the accepted tolerance for the floor finish, it must be repaired before the floors are installed so that the floors will not crack or warp once installed. The installers will also check the moisture level of the concrete slab for moisture level. If the slab is too wet, it will (over time) deteriorate the glue used to install the floor, and the floor will “bubble” up. If you’ve ever been playing basketball in a gymnasium and noticed a “dead” spot where the floor bubbles up and your basketball doesn’t bounce as well, that is an example of flooring that has been installed on a slab that is out of plumb or has become unglued.
  • Reusing Old Building – A lot of people have asked, where did the old building go, and did you keep the ramp? Sadly the infamous Kempsville Rec Center ramp is no more, but it isn’t gone forever. The old building was ground up and used as aggregate for the new parking lot, so it isn’t gone completely, but has a new life!


A special thanks to Dave Chance Photography for the photos of the Hard Hat tour!