Construction Continues on Texas Fine Art Center

By Lisa Kopochinski

PLANO, Texas— Construction continues on the new Plano ISD Fine Arts Center in Plano, Texas. Serving as construction manager at risk for preconstruction and construction services, McCarthy Building Companies broke ground on this project in January 2019.

With a completion date slated for first quarter 2021, this 90,000-square-foot free-standing building will feature a 1,500-seat multi-purpose performance hall with an upper-level balcony and lower-level orchestra pit, a 250-seat studio theatre (black box), a rehearsal studio for music and dance and a visual arts gallery.

Perkins + Will and BORA are the architecture firms on this impressive $53.3 million project.

“The Fine Arts Center is a unique building type for the district since we primarily deal with schools, stadiums and administrative offices. Selecting the right team to join us and help guide us on this particular project has been critical,” said Tony Pearson, Plano ISD assistant director of Facility Services, in a statement.

The building is an architectural concrete structure (exposed concrete interior walls, etc.) for which McCarthy is providing concrete work. The concrete construction details include the following:

  • 10,000 cubic yards of concrete
  • Cast-in-place architecture walls ranging from 40 feet to 90 feet in height and 8 inches to 20 inches in thickness
  • Custom patterned concrete formliner for acoustical means in the main theater and studio theater

Located on the east side of Alma Road between 15th Street and W. Park Blvd., the state-of-the-art facility will contribute to the education of more than 60 percent of Plano’s secondary students participating in fine arts programs.

The facility will also include a main lobby, theater and visual art support spaces as well as exterior gathering and performance spaces. There will be surface parking for approximately 700 cars.

“The scope of this structure includes concrete walls that rise as tall as 85 feet,” said McCarthy Building Companies Project Manager Zach Snavely.

“The obvious number one concern on this project is fall protection and falling object protection. McCarthy has robust guidelines and processes for these exact hazards. Some things that we do to keep our craftsman safe is to consistently preach the importance of discussing safety hazards—specifically fall protection—in their daily morning crew huddles. We also create safe access and egress zones with overhead protection at different areas of the jobsite to control where personnel walk in and around the structure. This helps keep people in safe zones to limit being struck by a potential falling object from work occurring above.”

As for challenges on this project, Snavely said the BIM coordination was by far one of the major challenges.

“The sole fact that the entire structure is cast-in-place, not tilt-up or precast, architecturally exposed concrete created a need for coordination beyond what you typically see on construction projects. An architecturally exposed concrete structure means that all your mechanical, electrical, and plumbing items must be installed in a concrete wall, not in a drywall partition.”

This also means that the team has one chance to get it right.

“Concrete is not as friendly as drywall when it comes to adding an additional electrical backbox and conduit,” he added.

“All of this required the BIM coordination to be elaborate, extremely collaborative, and focused on ensuring coordination was done on time and done right. BIM coordination was completed in June 2019.”