Rod Laver Arena gets an updating in Melbourne

Rod Laver Arena October 2017

Lendlease is currently constructing improvements to Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.

Timing has never really been my thing. So in honor of the Australian Open (that ended 4 weeks ago), and our visit to Melbourne (that’s been over for 4 months), here are some photos of the ongoing construction at Rod Laver Arena, originally designed by Cox Architecture, at Melbourne Park. Lendlease is doing the honors.

You can learn more about the planned improvements from the arena’s website below:

BETTER FACILITIES FOR VISITORS AND FANS

Beginning in February 2016, and staged over four years, the Stage 2 redevelopment will breathe new life into Rod Laver Arena delivering:
• a new three-level, eastern-facing main public entrance and new annexes on the northern and southern sides of the building
• improved amenities, including more food and beverage outlets and toilets
• accessible entrances to the seating bowl and expanded public concourse spaces, making it easier to move around the building.

BETTER FACILITIES FOR PLAYERS AND PERFORMERS

Extensive back-of-house improvements will ensure that performers and players enjoy the best possible amenities and staging facilities, including
• improved rigging capacity, enabling the venue to host bigger productions
• a bigger loading dock to manage faster turnaround of events
• refurbishment of the area underneath the arena, providing year-round services for artists, production crews and players during the Australian Open.

And now, for the pics. And remember, these are four months old.

Sometimes the tower cranes we miss are the tower cranes we miss the most

Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center

Curtis Waltz at Aerialscapes sent over this photo of the WESC from June, just as the second tower crane was coming down.

We love tower cranes at Building Up Chicago. That’s no secret. We’re especially fond of scenes like Vista Tower, The Simpson-Querrey Center, McDonald’s Headquarters, and One Bennett Park, each of which have two tower cranes on site. And don’t even get us started about the two projects we saw in London that had 10 apiece.

But we can’t get to them all.

We found out today, courtesy of Curtis Waltz at Aerialscapes, that the tower crane we wandered to at the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center had a sibling. Up until a couple weeks before we stopped by, the parking garage being constructed next to the Milwaukee Bucks’ new arena had a second tower crane.

Hey! Why not keep a tower crane on a parking garage? Do you have any idea how helpful (and fun) it would be to use it to get cars up to and off the top level?

Curtis said neither tower crane remains on site now, so it looks like we got there just in time. Maybe one trip a year to Milwaukee isn’t often enough?

Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center

Only one tower crane remained when we visited the WESC in July.

Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center

Don’t get me wrong; there were still multiple cranes. Just not multiple tower cranes.

Wandering Milwaukee: Revisiting the Bucks’ new arena, vicariously, from the air

Milwaukee Bucks new arena

An eagle-eye view of the Milwaukee Bucks’ new arena from pilot/photographer Curtis Waltz at Aerialscapes.

Milwaukee Bucks new arena

Photo via Curtis Waltz at Aerialscapes.

You’ve already seen my visit from the first weekend in July to the Milwaukee Bucks’ new arena. Dozens and dozens of photos. Yet there were still two angles of the construction site I wasn’t able to see: from the inside, and from overhead. The former I won’t likely see until I buy a basketball ticket. But the latter? Someone else has that covered for us.

Click this link to see the Milwaukee Business Journal story from July 6 that featured photos from aerial photographer Curtis Waltz. Not satisfied with drone footage, Mr. Waltz goes one step further. Or higher, as the case may be: he flies his own plane to get his shots.

You can see all of Curtis Waltz’s work at Aerialscapes.

The Bucks’ Twitter account tweeted the following drone video, which does include some inside footage:

Not enough for ya? Well, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a drone video for you to check out as well.

http://www.jsonline.com/videos/sports/nba/bucks/2017/07/11/video-aerial-view-drone-future-milwaukee-bucks-arena/103568966/

There’s more to see at the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center News page here. They update it frequently, so check in early and often.

Wandering Milwaukee: The Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center

Milwaukee Bucks new arena

The new of of the Milwaukee Bucks rises as part of the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center.

Another Summerfest has come and gone from Milwaukee. I like Summerfest. It gives me a chance to sample the unhealthiest of delicious festival foods, walk around downtown, and see a concert. Last year, it was Sting. This year, Paul Simon. And once a year, I get to check in on Milwaukee construction.

A rendering of the new Milwaukee Bucks arena.

Hands down, the most watchable construction site in Milwaukee right now is the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center. Including the future home of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, the WESC is a design by Populous, the Kansas City-based architecture firm known in Chicago for its work on Guaranteed Rate Field and the United Center, with assistance from Eppstein Uhen Architects and HNTB Corporation. Populous has also done design work for features of the Wrigley Field renovation. Chances are, if you’ve been to more than two sporing events in your life, you probably watched them in a Populous facility. The M.A. Mortenson Company is the general contractor.

While the WESC will eventually be a 30-acre entertainment district, the center piece is the new 714,000-square-foot arena. That, along with a multi-level parking garage, are under construction now. The $524 million arena is scheduled for completion in time for the 2018-2019 NBA season.

You can learn *tons* more about the new arena from ICON Venue Group.

You can keep up with the WESC on Twitter here.

Follow M.A. Mortenson here.

 

 

 

 

Wintrust Arena heads to the fourth quarter up big

Wintrust Arena

Wintrust Arena, part of The Collection at McCormick Square.

I haven’t seen what’s going on inside Wintrust Arena (though Shia Kapos of the Sun-Times has) but the outside is looking like it could host basketball or a convention any day now. But we’ll have to wait until fall, when the new facility begins hosting DePaul Blue Demon basketball.

Clark Construction still has their game-faces on as they work to complete the 10,000-seat Pelli Clarke Pelli design. Maybe there’s no full-court press on yet, but Fall will be here before we know it.

Construction Progress: Chicago Blackhawks Community Training Center

Chicago Blackhawks Community Training Center

Work continues on the Chicago Blackhawks Community Training Center.

At 1801 West Jackson Boulevard on the west side, McHugh Construction continues working on the Chicago Blackhawks Community Training Center. Wingers, defensemen, and goalies will be able to use it too though. The two-story, 125,000-square-foot facility, designed by HOK, replaces the original, now-demolished Malcolm X College, which became expendable when a new facility was built across the street.

In addition to providing practice surfaces for the Blackhawks and visiting NHL teams, the center will provide youth hockey development, and host recreational hockey leagues as well. It is expected to open in December of this year.

Quick Look: Wintrust Arena has a roof

Finally got a look at the roof of Wintrust Arena this week. Glad I’m not the one who has to shovel the snow off so work can continue.

 

Construction Progress: Chicago Blackhawks Training Center

Blackhawks Training Center

The Chicago Blackhawks Community Training Center on the city’s west side.

On the grounds of now-demolished Malcom X College (which just happens to be across the street from the brand-new Malcolm X College), the Chicago Blackhawks Community Training Center is being constructed at 1801 West Jackson Boulevard. McHugh Construction has pulled off quite the power play, linking steel together to form the facility’s frame, and even getting the roof in place. The One Goal? Have the center open in December 2017.

HOK designed the dual-rink, 125,000-square-foot icehouse.

Construction Update: The McCormick Place Event Center

McCormick Place Event Center

The McCormick Place Event Center under construction.

It’s surely a combination of blue steel and red crane, but the construction process at the McCormick Place Event Center in the Prairie District of the South Loop is as much fun to watch as any building site in Chicago. And with the rooftop garden at McCormick Place accessible for Open House Chicago this weekend, you can climb up there and take in the view for yourself. (Make a point to check out the vegetables and herbs as well, just to have a memory of being in a garden on a roof, but you’ll be swept in by the construction.)

Quickly, before you’re deluged by a huge gallery of photos: The McCormick Place Event Center will be a 10,000-seat arena designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli serving as the home court for DePaul basketball, as well as a host to concerts, conventions, business meetings, and other sporting events. Clark Construction is the general contractor.

Though technically not a rebuilding year, the Blackhawks *are* building

Chicago Blackhawks Community Training Center

Caisson crews work on foundations, even as demolition crews tear down the remainder of Malcolm X College.

On the site where the old Malcolm X College is being demolished as we speak, McHugh Construction crews are doing foundation work for the new Chicago Blackhawks Community Training Center. Designed by HOK, the 125,000-square-foot facility will serve not only the Blackhawks and their visiting opponents, but the entire Chicago hockey-playing community as well. How? Well, I could go on and on about it, but I suggest you read it straight from the team’s mouth. View the press release here, or read it in full after the foundation work photos below:

 

 

The Chicago Blackhawks announced today that the organization will build a 125,000-square-foot community training center for youth hockey development programs, recreational leagues and other events, which will also serve as the practice facility for the Blackhawks and visiting National Hockey League teams.

The state-of-the-art facility will be located two blocks south of the United Center on a 4-acre site currently housing Malcolm X College, which is expected to move into its own new building north of Jackson Boulevard in January 2016. The privately funded project will cost approximately $50 million and is being designed to contain two NHL regulation-size ice rinks, spectator seating and a dedicated oasis parking lot to serve facility guests and buses (renderings attached). In total, approximately 94 percent of the proposed facility’s utilization will serve the surrounding community, including young adult, youth and community programs that may not have the means to play otherwise.

“Hockey’s future is dictated by the ability of kids to get on the ice,” Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz said. “For those in urban areas like Chicago, that’s an incredible challenge. We want to provide our community the opportunity to learn how to skate and help them develop a love and passion for the sport that has brought so much joy to Chicago and the region these past few years.”

HOK and McHugh Construction are working to finalize the design and engineering of the ice rink. Since opening in 1994, the United Center–a join initiative owned by the Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago Bulls–has invested over $180 million in construction costs for the stadium and over $100 million in area improvements.

The facility will offer special programs dedicated to serving youth in partnership with the Chicago Park District, open-skate ice times and community events, including hockey and figure skate rentals, ice rentals for adult and youth recreation leagues and local, national, international, collegiate and amateur tournament play.

Per USA Hockey, Illinois ranked fifth in the nation with 30,553 registered hockey players during the 2014-15 season, marking a 37.5 percent increase in membership since the 2007-08 season, which is the second-largest percent increase among USA Hockey regional affiliates. Since 2007-08, Illinois saw the largest total increase in participants among USA Hockey regional affiliates with 8,331 new members. The Blackhawks currently have partnerships with 56 hockey rinks in Illinois, but only four exist within the city of Chicago.

“The addition of a Blackhawks training and community facility is another step in the progress and advancement of our franchise as we continue to strive for consistent excellence both on and off the ice,” said Blackhawks President & CEO John McDonough.

“Soon Malcolm X will get a new 21st century campus to complement the 21st century education they provide and a site that used to serve one of Chicago’s community colleges will soon serve as a community anchor, bringing even more economic opportunity to the Near North Side,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This plan creates a permanent home for the Blackhawks to train in Chicago and allows Rush University Medical Center, which has already been a great partner with Malcolm X, to expand it campus and further support the people who live and work in this neighborhood.”

Chicago Blackhawks Charities (CBC) will oversee year-round youth programs and clinics at the training center, ensuring the project’s community benefits extend to those who would otherwise be unable to cover the costs of ice time, equipment and transportation. CBC pledges to support programs and institutions throughout Illinois that focus on health and wellness, education and housing, while striving to serve local citizens and impact the lives of youth and their families in and around the city of Chicago. Since its inception in October 1993, Chicago Blackhawks Charities has contributed over $14 million to local non-profit organizations, including over $2 million over the past year to 28 community organizations that focus on health and wellness, education and housing.

“Any kid that wants to ‘Be Like Mike’ can go down the street and shoot hoops,” Wirtz said. “It’s a little tougher if a kid wants to be the next Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews. We’re thrilled to make this investment in our community and give more kids the opportunity to learn to skate and play this great game.”