Feature Article - July 2014
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Opportunity Knocks

Finding the Right Enclosure Solution to Expand Your Possibilities

By Joe Bush

When Miami's Tropical Park wanted to expand its Ronald Reagan Equestrian Center for a national show in the fall of 2013, it turned to a Memphis, Tenn.-based leader in pre-engineered steel systems construction and local contractor Lemartec Engineering and Construction Corporation for the unique structure needed.

There are high winds in the Miami area, and an equestrian center needs a clear-span building—it cannot have interior support obstructing performance and viewing. The project needed to be completed quickly, in time for the event. The right pre-engineered solution came from a manufacturer Lemartec had worked with for a quarter century.

The project is an example of a solution when an organization needs to expand or adapt existing facilities like pools, fitness clubs, ice rinks and school athletic areas with full or partial enclosures. Do you need to turn an outdoor pool into an indoor pool in a four-season climate? Add an indoor track? Companies, builders and their clients are working together to solve such problems efficiently and expand opportunities for programming, revenues and more.

Showing Off

The result in Miami was two covered arenas, each of 55,000 square feet, and lighted covered connecting walkways to complement the existing show arena. The center now includes 3.7 acres of exhibition and competition area and 267 horse stalls available for rent, giving the 275-acre multipurpose park more flexibility to offer a wider variety of large-scale exhibition events to attract international participants and more spectators.

Throughout the year, the equestrian center hosts rodeos, several special events, three state and local dog shows, and the annual Miami International Agriculture, Cattle and Horse Show, a three-day event drawing more than 60,000 worldwide visitors and horse and cattle exhibitors from more than 18 states. Among major events recently booked for the equestrian center was the 2013 Confederation of Paso Fino Horse Show, a world-class competition involving more than 1,000 horses from 12 Caribbean, Central and South American countries.

In other words, the expansion was not only deserved, it was high profile. Lemartec President Manny Garcia-Tuńon says there was one main reason the product they selected solved the many challenges.

This project is an example of a solution when an organization needs to expand or adapt existing facilities like pools, fitness clubs, ice rinks and school athletic areas with full or partial enclosures.

"There are many advantages when going with a pre-engineered structure for an application such as this—an equestrian center," he said. "The main advantage, however, is obviously cost. There is simply no better way to accomplish the kind of clear-spans that these facilities require. We can't have interior columns in an equestrian center for obvious reasons, and the 225-foot-plus spans are very demanding relative to design and the type of material and system which will be utilized.

"Concrete cannot perform practically and economically in this situation, and even conventional steel would require sections far larger than a pre-engineered solution."

Clear-span, 275-foot-wide, open-web framing was used to form the Tropical Park Equestrian center expansion. The metal building system was used to create four covered walkways, with a combined total roof area of 10,337 square feet. Both main arenas are 200 feet by 275 feet long and have a ridge height of just over 43 feet. Garcia-Tuńon said all of the steel used is recycled or recyclable and thus scores LEED points.

He said cost of such structures can vary due to climate (high wind area, seismic activity risk, snow loads) and sub-soil type (for foundation adjustments), but when the speed of construction is combined with material and labor cost considerations, a pre-engineered system is attractive.

When his company designs and builds facilities like the equestrian center, Garcia-Tuńon said, they collaborate with the pre-engineered building manufacturer from the very start, "and the buildings are designed by us, in-house through our licensed software," which is shared with the manufacturer. "This not only ensures a quick turnaround on shop drawings, but also reactions, which we then use to design foundations, so the design and permitting process is expedited. After approvals, fabrication and delivery for this type of building can be completed in as little as three months, which is way quicker than conventional steel fabrication, and because this is a 'system,' as opposed to conventional, construction is much quicker."