Sections Of Notre Dame Football Stadium Get Insulated With Spray Polyurethane Foam
By Juan Sagarbarria
Notre Dame Stadium: Home of the “Fighting Irish,” the 87-year-old football stadium that came to be with heavy influence from Coach Knute Rockne in the late 1920s, and in popular culture, it is the principal setting for climactic scenes in the movie Rudy. It is one of the most iconic stadiums for collegiate football action in the country, with elevations of up to nine stories high and a capacity for more than 84,000 people.
Throughout the years, this legendary stadium has sustained a number of remodels, and most recently, a significant upgrade known as the “Campus Crossroads.” Campus Crossroads is a $400 million construction project that will see the emergence of three buildings that will be used for academic and hospitality purposes. The buildings are being constructed from the foundation level to above the rim of the stadium on the east, west, and south sides, respectively. In each building, the academic and student life spaces are being constructed below the rim of the stadium and the hospitality spaces, which consist of suite level seating, are being built above the rim. The hospitality suites are indoor spaces with large glass windows for premier game viewing, and they include an outside area with overhangs at the top of each floor for outside seating. On the driving seat of this project is reputed construction firm Barton Marlow, whose team is working in conjunction with architecture firm The S/L/A/M Collaborative, consultants Workshop Architects and 360 Architecture, as well as co-designer RATION Architects. (Editor’s Note: As this article is being written, the entirety of the project is slated for completion.)
INSULATION BEYOND THE END ZONE
As one could imagine, this was a gargantuan undertaking that entailed many moving parts, including the implementation of subcontracting trades to install electrical wiring, plumbing, and insulation as construction of each section made headway. Barton Marlow deemed high-quality insulation key for the project’s success, and didn’t think twice to add spray foam insulation to the project’s specifications. Stony Creek Services (SCS), a Michigan-based spray foam contractor, won the bid for the project. They assembled a six-person team and proceeded to equip their rig with a Graco E-8p proportioner, 300 feet of hose, and a Graco Fusion air-purge spray gun prior to embarking on an-hour-and-a-half drive from their Galesburg, Michigan location to the stadium, which is located in South Bend, Indiana. This was a lengthy drive that the crew would make a few times a week for three and a half months, but it was worth it if it meant being part of this monumental renovation.
“It’s not often that a high-profile project such as this one comes along and is up for bid—we were honored to be selected to install a great product inside a landmark building,” says Anton Cornellier, owner of SCS. “It was beyond exciting to be part of this project, and I think it was a win-win for everybody.”
The insulation package entailed the installation of SPF below and above the rim of the stadium to all the buildings. Much like a football play, the project involved strategic planning and timely execution.
The crew had 300 feet of hose to work with. This posed a problem being that each of the nine floors was nearly 450 feet in length—and they were applying foam in each one. It was a good thing that the E-8p they brought on site is a portable machine, that allowed the crew to access each floor by elevator and spray with minimal downtime in between.
BELOW THE RIM
Five of the nine floors of the newly constructed buildings are located below the exterior bowl of the stadium, and after the structures were constructed, a subcontractor installed insulated precast concrete panels to the exterior walls of these floors. The rigid board was sandwiched between the precast concrete. This creates a joint where the panels came together in which the insulation stops one foot from the top, bottom and side edges, which created a void in the perimeter of each panel that allowed for air and vapor to travel through. That’s where the application of closed-cell foam came in handy.
“Basically, you had a foot gap of un-insulated concrete,” explains Cornellier. “With the closed-cell foam, you were able to maintain continuous insulation and create a premium seamless, monolithic, and durable air and vapor barrier to the building.”
SCS was contracted to spray foam for two feet on each side of the joints to fill in every void of the precast concrete substrate. The crew utilized PERMAX 2.0X; a two-component closed-cell spray polyurethane foam system made by the Henry Company, Tyvek coveralls, full-face respirators, and gloves were worn for the duration of the project. They installed three inches of foam to the exterior walls over the precast concrete in all five floors. A subcontracting company installed drywall over the cured foam shortly after the SCS crew completed the insulation application to the floors below the rim.
ABOVE THE RIM
The foam application for the remaining four floors where the hospitality suites are being built differed greatly than the one below: The SCS crew actually applied foam on the interior and exterior of the hospitality suites. They installed six inches of PERMAX 2.0X to the exterior walls between metal studs located on the interior of the upper-level floors. Project specifications stated that the foam would be left exposed on the above-the-rim floors, and called for the use of a thermal barrier coating. Therefore, the SCS crew coated the foam on the exterior walls of the floors above the rim with DC315, a fire-protective intumescent coating formulated by International Fireproof Technology Inc. (IFTI).
On the outside viewing areas of the hospitality suites, there are large overhangs that provide shade and protection to the seating areas. These overhangs were also a part of the insulation package. The crew installed two inches of foam to the metal deck and concrete substrate on the underside of these overhangs. As far as the walls on the exterior of the suites were concerned, exterior gypsum board sheathing had been installed just above the windows before SCS began working on the outside areas. To these areas, the SCS crew applied Henry Air-Bloc 32MR over the exterior sheathing, a one-component elastomeric membrane made by Henry that cures to a monolithic rubber-like membrane that resists air leakage. In some areas, mineral fiber was installed for insulation and foam was sprayed to address the gaps. Two inches of closed-cell foam was then applied over the elastomeric membrane to completely seal the sheathing to the metal deck.
“The intention here is, even though we are spraying the ceiling of the seventh floor on the outside, what we are actually accomplishing is the insulation of the floor of the eighth floor, and so forth.” clarifies Cornellier.
For the exterior portion of the insulation project, the SCS crew worked off rolling scaffolding that rolled over the 400 lineal feet of the overhang, allowing crewmembers easy access to each outside area. As a safety precaution, the crew also affixed plastic tarps to the edges of the overhangs so that the sprayer was enclosed and there was protection behind the spray line that mitigated overspray damage while working outside.
Foam in place, and with mere finishing touches for the Campus Crossroads endeavor to be finalized, Cornellier and his crew are convinced that spray polyurethane foam was the right decision by Barton Marlow, affirming that its cutting-edge properties will contribute to the preservation and enhancement of this historic stadium. To SCS, it was a rewarding experience to have worked with the Barton Marlow team, and they look forward to future opportunities to collaborate together once again.
“This was the right insulation package featuring a material that creates a monolithic system and optimal R-Value all around,” states Cornellier. “We are talking about the kind of insulation that can last as long as the stadium itself has been around. That in itself says a lot about spray foam.” •
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Photos courtesy of Stony Creek Services