Nassau Veteran's Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, NY, USA | Architect: SHoP Architects | © Jamey Price Photography

Nassau Veteran's Memorial Coliseum

Project: Nassau Veteran's Memorial Coliseum
Location/Country: Uniondale, NY, USA
Architects: SHoP Architects, Ney York City, NY | USA
Fabricator: Sobotec Ltd., Hamilton, ON | Canada
Construction: Hunt Construction Group, Indianapolis, IN | USA
Installation: Crown Corr, Gary, IN | USA
Year of Construction: 2017
Colour Surface: Natural Brushed 50
Photos: © Jamey Price Photography

The Nassau Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum presented by New York Community Bank was updated both inside and out. It re-opened in April 2017 after being closed slightly more than 1.5 years for the $165-million renovation that was privately funded by Nassau Events Center (NEC) LLC.

“This building had great bones,” said John Cerone, associate principal and director of virtual design and construction, SHoP Architects. “With its 4-foot-thick concrete piers, we knew it could hold much more. We took a light approach to the project and decided to clip a metal design element to the existing structure.”

The intricate metal design system wrapping the 416,000-square-foot coliseum consists of approximately 4,700 unique aluminum “fins” created with 225,000 square feet of recyclable 4mm ALUCOBOND® PLUS aluminum composite material (ACM) by 3A Composites USA in the naturAL Brushed finish.

“Each of the elements in this system varies slightly in profile and dimension to create a subtle flow that reflects the big skies of the flat Long Island landscape,” according to a SHoP statement. “The materiality of the design evokes the area’s history as well – a reference to the Spirit of St. Louis, which departed a nearby airfield for the first non-stop solo transatlantic flight in 1927.”

The Coliseum’s 85,000 square-foot concrete exterior was painted entirely in black in order “to serve as a backdrop for this ethereal metal system,” according to Cerone, who said SHoP Architects started work on a master plan for the Coliseum’s renovation in 2013 for Forest City Ratner, which was awarded development rights by Nassau County that same year.

ALUCOBOND® PLUS was chosen to create the fins for its light weight and flexibility, according to Cerone.

“Each of these fins has six folds,” he said. “We knew this would be a complicated folding and routing process. We wanted clean lines and several fields of interest to look at as you walk closer to the individual fins. The ALUCOBOND® material expresses flexibility. It’s very easy to form into precise shapes. We also loved the natural brushed aluminum finish. It picks up the ambient light and color well during different times of day and reflects the sky and sunset. As the crowd moves into the Coliseum, colors from their clothes and the surrounding trees also get reflected into the material.”

The metal design system was created through “100 percent digital modeling,” according to Cerone, who said this process required SHoP crews to scan the entire exterior of the Coliseum with 3-D lasers to create digital files that would ensure the metal system fit onto the building while allowing the fins and space frame to be pre-fabricated in controlled environments.

“These scans allowed us to coordinate with the contractors to a fraction of an inch,” said Cerone, who said this cutting-edge digital design process was one that SHoP had prototyped on a previous project. “Everyone working on this project was digitally facile. We had proven this process before and continue to push it to the industry. Inevitably, we expect to see more design and fabrication moving in this direction for its precision, speed and efficiencies. In this project, we were able to accurately coordinate the fabrication of 4,700 uniquely folded fins that were unfolded on the site in pairs. They fit perfectly. We loved collaborating with the manufacturers and contractors on this project.”

Sobotec crews spent approximately six months fabricating the fins from custom 38-foot-long sheets of ALUCOBOND® PLUS, according to Vlad Sobot, president, Sobotec, which utilized the architect’s 3-D models to create shop fabrication drawings that could be read by the company’s CNC router.

“These panels were fabricated into such a unique shape – similar to a shark fin,” said Sobot. “The fin comes out and then tapers in; the panel then is adjusted and reversed to taper the other way. … Not one fin is the exact same size as the other. As one fin comes out bigger in the design, the fin next to it becomes smaller.”

The overall visual impact of these variably sized fins is “an undulating line that looks like an ocean wave,” according to Sobot, who credits Sobotec’s engineering capabilities and ALUCOBOND® to the unique design’s fabrication success.

“ALUCOBOND® is the only material that can actually produce these shapes,” said Sobot. “It would be impossible to make these shapes with solid aluminum sheets; they can’t be folded in this fashion. … Additionally, when you look at renovating an existing structure that is designed for a certain weight load, it might not be able to withstand a heavy material. ALUCOBOND® is so light that it’s not usually a problem on a retrofit. It's is very unique; it’s not your typical metal panel.”

Read the full case study here to find out more about the complex planning, fabrication and installation techniques required for this eye-catching landmark.

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