Sports Facilities

Western Carolina U Chooses Woolpert for Stadium Project

A North Carolina institution is almost finished with a million-dollar project in its stadium. The Western Carolina University project included the removal, demolition and replacement of the existing synthetic turf field and the addition of a new synthetic turf practice area.

The university gave the contract to provide landscape architecture, design and engineering for Bob Waters Field at E.J. Whitmire Stadium to Woolpert, an architecture, engineering, geospatial and strategic consulting firm with 25 locations around the country, including offices in North Carolina and South Carolina.

The original turf was installed in 2008. Woolpert will also do resurfacing of a perimeter walkway and install goal posts, fencing and concrete curbing. The project is expected to be completed by Aug. 1, 2020, after experiencing some delays caused by COVID-19.

The number one objective for the field, according to Carl Armanini, a sports designer and senior landscape architect for Woolpert, is safety. The field will include padding to absorb "Gmax forces" and proper drainage.

"The most important aspect of any synthetic turf or natural grass field is drainage," said Armanini, in a press release. "Without it, the structural integrity of the field is compromised and can lead to athletes skating across the surface.

Armanini, who will serve as construction administrator for the job, noted that the university wanted to use a new type of woven turf. "We were able to provide that and their other preferred products within budget. We're excited to be able to provide this for the school, and to do so on an expedited schedule."

"Fortunately, we got off to a quick start and were able to get the project advertised and bid ahead of our May graduation deadline," said Woolpert Project Manager Katie Thayer. "Challenges surfaced while working within prescribed state orders during the pandemic and coordinating the project virtually, but we're fortunate to have an expert team in place that can pivot and react as needed."

Events that typically take place at the university in the fall have been canceled for 2020, including an annual Freshman Run, in which first-year students race across the Bob Waters Field prior to kickoff at the school's first home football game. That game has also been canceled. The "Catamounts" raised $218,525 toward the turf replacement project in a campaign last fall, four times higher than the $50,000 goal.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @schaffhauser.