Sports facilities are unique environments that face varying environmental conditions from both within and outside the structure. In evaluating building materials, client and builder seek proven solutions for meeting environmental requirements, codes and long-term durability without forsaking the art of design.

Enter the new Boston Sports Institute (BSI), a 130,000 square foot multi-use recreation facility in Wellesley, a suburb of Metro West Boston. A collegiate town and activities hub for surrounding residential communities, Wellesley lacked a professional grade sports facility. Featuring two NHL ice arenas, a synthetic turf field, indoor track, repurposed 2012 Olympic trial pool, warm-up pool, sports rehabilitation area and strength training facility, this $23.3 million complex was completed in July 2019. Centered on a public-private partnership model between the town and the management company Edge Sports Group, BSI prioritizes ice and pool time for local schools who previously traveled to professional facilities. It is also rentable for private organizations and sports groups.

“We were committed to using insulated metal panels from the earliest design stages, both for its performance and design flexibility,” states Kevin Provencher, AIA, LEED AP, Director of Architecture at the design builder Dacon Corporation. “We have a lot of history with this type of product on a variety of building types. It is an effective solution for multi-use facilities with variable environmental requirements. Both ice rinks and natatoriums have high moisture loads, but the ice rink’s temperature will be maintained at 55 degrees Fahrenheit while the pools are at 82 degrees. It’s an ideal wall system for a facility with demanding environmental needs.”

Provencher says insulated metal panels (IMPs) provide a total wall system that incorporates a continuous insulating layer with control layers for weather, air and vapor barriers.

“It helps that we partnered with a quality metal building builder,” Provencher says. “Collaboration was key to this project’s success. Selecting the right details and sharing responsibility eases the burden on the designer.”

Barnes Buildings & Management Group Inc. of Weymouth, Mass., a Metallic Building Company dealer, installed the insulated metal panels from Metl-Span as well as the engineered metal framing system. Tony Barnes oversaw the erection of the metal framing and challenging installation of 58,000 square feet of insulated metal panels. Tim Allison, the Vice President of Project Management at Barnes, oversaw project administration.

“We have a mixture of panel types in multiple colors that run in two orientations,” Allison says. “When we have just one type of panel and one color, we simply unwrap the bundle and install continuously. With multiple colors, you must spread out bundles so we can access the panels in the order needed. With this site, we didn’t have much room, so it was tricky. We paid close attention to the drawings and details to ensure correct installation.”

Allison says Barnes Buildings erects a lot of structures using engineered metal framing systems and IMPs. He’s noticed an architectural trend is using mixed colors and panel orientation to provide a unique aesthetic that is almost impossible to match with other building materials.

Metl-Span’s Smoke Gray, Polar White and Sandstone were installed to create an eye-catching aesthetic. “Our client wanted a strong visual impact on the north façade facing the state highway,” Provencher says. “When passing other commercial buildings commuters notice this vibrant design featuring vertical and horizontal panels. Tim Allison and Marty Barnes provided valuable input, influencing the final outcome.”

There are several unique details to BSI, including a parapet on the gable end of the building above the pool. It starts low at the eaves and grows to 3 feet at the peak to hide rooftop equipment. Barnes Buildings also installed an accent band near the top of the building, a single skin metal panel that continues horizontally from the windows. The 7.2 Rib panel from Metl-Span is 36 inches wide with ribs that are 1-1/2 inches deep.

The roofing for more than 75 percent of the building is a double lock standing seam from Metallic in bare Galvalume. The roofing above the pool is a bare Galvalume insulated metal panel, Metl-Span’s CFR system. It starts approximately 35 feet from the roof peak, so the top section of roofing is standing seam. At the transition to where the IMPs are above the pool, the roofline drops 1 foot. The interior skin on the roofing and wall IMPs in the pool area are coated with Valspar’s Flurothane IV, a finish formulated to protect in exceptionally harsh environments where chemical corrosion protection is needed.

“It’s all things we’ve dealt with on other projects, but there’s a little bit of everything on this one,” Allison says. “It’s a special job and a visually appealing project. The IMPs are ideally suited for our New England climate. When used as walls and roofing, they provide excellent continuous insulation on any building.”

Architect: PDA Inc., Natick, MA

Design Builder: Dacon Corporation, Natick, MA

IMP Installer: Barnes Buildings & Management Group, Weymouth, MA

Completion Date: July 2019


What underlies the value of play?  While some speak of the enchantment of winning, today’s social and economic motivators indelibly integrate teamwork, achievement and self-discipline with business profitability. Propelled by technology, activism and cultural changes, sports has become a powerful entertainer – a content creator and media draw. Enter the sports ecosystem, a mixed-use concept where community and customer-centric value chain creation are new business partners.

Edge Sports Group (ESG), led by Brian DeVellis, foresaw a unique opportunity within the MetroWest landscape in creating the Boston Sports Institute (BSI), a professional grade facility encompassing sports functions and related commercial businesses in a communal environment. Utilizing a public-private partnership model, ESG is a long-term lessee that constructs, manages and owns the 130,000 s/f building, while the town of Wellesley retains land ownership, priority scheduling and dedicated hours. With 102,000 s/f of ground floor area and 28,000 s/f of mezzanine space, DeVellis’ holistic vision centralizes sports medicine, tutoring services and quick dining alongside two NHL hockey rinks for skating, sled and ice hockey, a suspended track, an indoor turf field, therapy pool and competitive repurposed pool from the 2012 Olympic trials. The fifth sports facility project for ESG after previous developments in Worcester, Essex, Bedford and Braintree, BSI continues the sports ecosystem business model.

A well-planned design strategy for any building correctly configures interaction, energy use, business growth and long-term interest. For mixed-use sports facilities the difference is in maintaining multiple high energy demand, temperature and humidity-controlled environments spanning rinks, natatoriums, turf fields and public areas. From a design perspective, creating symbiotic environments within extreme temperature conditions appears paradoxical. However at BSI, operating costs were reduced by extracting thermal energy to keep the rinks frozen and reclaiming it to heat the pools via loop systems with heat exchangers and circulation pumps. Additional energy efficiency measures include LED lighting, high efficiency water heaters for domestic use and ice resurfacing, plus a state-of-the-art ammonia refrigeration system. The resulting program reduces Energy Use Intensity (EUI) from baseline 192.1 kBtu/ft2 to 169.2 kBtu/ft2, representing a 12% reduction in natural gas and electricity use. Additionally, the 100,000 s/f roof and electrical infrastructure is prepared for a 900kW photovoltaic array that will contribute to the town of Wellesley’s overall environmental goal to reduce electrical grid demand and carbon emissions.

Managing demands from multiple interior environments was a key factor in Dacon’s overall design and material selections. The exterior wall assembly was based on a tricolor pattern using Metl-Span panels which provided weather enclosure, insulation, air and vapor barrier in a single product. This approach encompassed the best overall value to fulfill the client’s functional and aesthetic requirements. The high interior relative humidity levels of the natatoriums (60%) and ice rinks (48%) presented an increased risk for condensation across the boundaries of adjacent spaces, adding a level of complexity to interior wall construction necessitating thermal insulation, window insulation and vapor barriers. Careful consideration was given to minimizing glare in the competition pool, a potential safety hazard and hinderance to competitive swimming. Anticipating the solar geometry, windows were strategically positioned high on the north side, limiting direct sunlight on the water’s surface to a few hours per year. For any pool, chemical management is a necessary component for both the comfort and health of swimmers and spectators. Irritating chloramine gas, a corrosive byproduct of chlorine disinfectant that settles near the water’s surface, is removed from swimmers’ breathing zones through vents located at the base of team benches running along the pool deck. The gas is then exhausted through vertical ducts that discharge through the roof. To guard against corrosion all exposed metal parts are stainless steel with wall and ceiling surfaces finished with epoxy.

Alongside environmental, financial, health and safety considerations, BSI’s design encompasses the full range of human diversity. The practice of sport is a human right, as such thoughtful consideration was given to expand facility functions for maximum use. With a movable bulkhead, chair lift and drop-in stair, the competition pool can be transformed into courses for water polo, competitive diving, youth, recreational and adaptive swim. Large view windows emphasize transparency between sports areas contributing to an awareness of activity throughout the facility and provide parents observational viewing. In addition to traditional locker rooms, a family locker room is available with private, gender neutral changing spaces. On the second level, suspended above the soccer/lacrosse turf field, is a two-lane track for jogging and rehabilitative walking. Elevators and accessible walkways ensure fluid access throughout the facility. This is a true community center that welcomes all ages and abilities.

Financial, perceptive, cultural and aesthetic elements all interplay in sports facility design. Within the sports ecosystem model, alignment of short and long-term goals are vital components to success for the town and lessee. While community facilities are symbolic of cultural values and ideals, they can also be profitable business models when employing a sports ecosystem as the facility framework. Critical design features of structure, materials, light and color contribute to success. Outside of financial prospects, it must not be forgotten that play is an essential community value for physical, cognitive and emotional strength. Walking the line between potential and reality, it enables human beings to develop capabilities, tolerance and inclusion, creating healthier communities.

October 18, 2019 – Construction Design & Engineering

Lauren Nowicki is the director of marketing for Dacon, Natick, Mass.


Dacon’s work on the new Boston Sports Institute in Natick received Metl-Span’s Building of the Month Award.  This 130,000sf professional grade facility encompasses sports functions and related commercial businesses in a communal environment.  Managing demands from multiple interior environments was a key factor in overall design and material selections.

The exterior wall assembly was based on a tricolor pattern selected by the client using Metl-Span panels which provided weather enclosure, insulation, air and vapor barrier in a single product.  This approach encompassed the best overall value to fulfill the client’s functional and aesthetic requirements.

Each October, the Metl-Span Awards are given based on a voting panel comprised of architects, insulated metal panel installers and internal stakeholders.  Voting selection consists of overall building aesthetics and incorporation of insulated metal panels into the building design.  This year there were 30 submissions. “We were delighted to receive this recognition.  Metl-Span panels offer a comprehensive, creative and practical solution to our clients’ building needs.  Our clients are consistently pleased with the outcome from using these panels,” states Kevin Quinn, CEO of Dacon.

 | November 5, 2019