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The Need for Speed

When AWCI member contractor Precision Walls, Inc., of Charlotte, N.C., was contracted by BE&K/Turner/Davis Joint Venture to work on the 150,000-square-foot NASCAR Hall of Fame construction project, they knew it would be necessary to break some of their own speed records to meet this job’s aggressive schedule.

And this was no ordinary job. The $195 million NASCAR Hall of Fame is an interactive, entertainment attraction honoring the history and heritage of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. A four-story, high-tech venue designed to educate and entertain race fans and non-fans alike, it showcases artifacts, interactive exhibits, a 275-person theater, an 8,400-square-foot restaurant, a 5,800-square-foot NASCAR Hall of Fame Gear Shop retail outlet, and NASCAR Media Group-operated TV and radio broadcast studio. The Hall is owned by the City of Charlotte, licensed by NASCAR, and operated by Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority.

Precision Walls was contracted to work on the hall’s interior/exterior light gauge framing, drywall partitions, and gypsum ceilings and finishes. All work had to conform to the complex design provided by the famed architectural firm, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners of New York. The architect’s design concept features a twisting, oval-shaped wrapping on the facility’s exterior similar to the shape of a speedway. It borrowed the curves and sweeping shapes that are a part of racetrack design and incorporated them into the Hall of Fame in dramatic ways to make visitors think of speed and acceleration.

In fact, nearly every wall in the Hall of Fame and exhibit areas had challenging curves, radius walls and soffits and design features. Precision Walls had to maintain the flow of a racetrack and also represent the individual slopes and banking of every racetrack on the NASCAR racing circuit. A Level 5 finish on these curves and slopes was required throughout the exhibit areas, Ceremonial Plaza, The Great Hall and Sunoco Glory Road, making this the biggest challenge that Precision Walls had to meet. (See the sidebar for some fun facts about these three areas of the hall.)

And how did they do it? Quality control. Precision Walls’ quality control measures ensured that their framing, drywall hanging and overall finishing was precise in maintaining the architect’s original intent.

“Precision Walls handled the unique challenges of difficult architectural assemblies and finishes with professionalism, attention to detail and the proper quality control measures that would have intimidated a lesser experienced company,” said Dan VonKossovsky, vice president and operations manager at the Charlotte, N.C., office of Turner Construction Co. “[The Precision Walls] project management team deserves praise for their willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty to implement a well-thought-out plan that was executed to a successful conclusion, with the finished product meeting and exceeding the owners’ expectations.”

Then there was the fast-track schedule. The Hall of Fame’s grand opening date of May 1, 2010, had a “zero tolerance” condition, so Precision Walls had fewer than two years to complete their contract, which included 22,000 square feet of acoustical ceilings, more than 1 million square feet of wallboard, and 660,000 linear feet of metal interior studs.

This was accomplished with Precision Walls’ mobilization of manpower and materials. The ability to look ahead and develop a plan to maintain the proper work flow while juggling change orders, design changes, work stoppages and conflicts that greatly impacted Precision’s ability to maintain the schedule, was deflected by proper communication and solutions to keep the work moving forward. “Not only was Precision Walls’ field staff accessible, competent and easy to work with, they also took the time to understand and address our needs, and the owners’ needs, in addition to the job specifications,” said Todd Joyce, project executive of the Joint Venture Group, BE&K/Turner/Davis. “I was very impressed with the Precision Walls ‘do whatever it takes’ attitude that was extremely evident during the last 90 days prior to the grand opening, making sure the end date was never compromised.”

Joyce added, “The Precision Walls attitude and extensive knowledge of their trade helped ensure the success and final completion of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. I want to specifically thank Precision Walls’ field staff: Bill Horsley, senior project manager; Joe Crowley, assistant project manager; and Ray Kinard, project superintendant, for their many man-hours in making the project a success.”

Precision Walls completed its work with 140,400 man-hours, and they did it all without experiencing a lost time accident. Precision Walls has one of the best safety records in the industry. Their low Experience Modification Rate is a result of their award-winning safety program, which is based on “target zero incidents” and a “drug-free workplace.”
Precision Walls also recognizes through their “LEAN Construction Initiative” that a clean workspace is a safe workspace, so their standard companywide “no trash hits the floor” policy, where each work crew is assigned trash dollies, made it possible to maintain an accident-free work zone. For these and similar efforts, Precision Walls has been awarded with AWCI’s Excellence in Construction Safety award on more than one occasion.

According to Brian Allen, president of Precision Walls Inc., “We were honored to be selected for this project. PWI has a long history with NASCAR and the Hall of Fame is something that enabled us to showcase our work, as well as being a tribute to what NASCAR has done for Charlotte and the racing world. The project was very challenging from a design and performance standpoint; however, we knew we had the right team—a team that would help our customer drive the job. We are proud that we were able to partner with BE&K/Turner/Davis to deliver a great experience for NASCAR fans.”

In the end, Precision Walls completed this high-profile project on time, within budget, and to the overall satisfaction of the owners, developers, designers, joint venture partners and the patrons of this spectacular venue that has captured the spirit and heritage of the sport of NASCAR.

If you plan on visiting Charlotte, N.C., whether for AWCI’s April Annual Convention or otherwise, make sure you visit the NASCAR Hall of Fame and see the fantastic work done by this AWCI member contractor. The hall is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., but check for special events and calendar information.
The NASCAR Hall of Fame is offering discounted group rates to registrants of AWCI’s Convention & INTEX Expo: $17.95 for general admission (as opposed to the regular admission rate of $19.95) with other discounts for seniors and children. To get these discounted rates, show your convention badge when you purchase your tickets at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Please note that if you purchase tickets online, you will not receive this discount, and you will be charged an additional $7 service charge.

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