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MTS Centre

The distinctive design of the MTS Centre by Denver, Colorado, architects Sink Combs Dethlefs reflects and illuminates Portage Avenue and the surrounding area, bringing new light, life and animation to downtown Winnipeg. The unique architecture combines contemporary glass, precast concrete and steel to fit well with the fabric of Winnipeg's downtown and recalls the tradition of historic Canadian sports palaces like the Montreal Forum and Maple Leaf Gardens. This building, along with other major projects, is contributing to the revitalization of Winnipeg's downtown.

"Winnipeg's downtown is its heart - it must be healthy if the city as a whole is to be fit and strong. Its health is a measure of its economic vitality, its social vibrancy and its physical attractiveness. In the end, the streets and buildings, the people, the businesses, the activities, merge to fashion the image that Winnipeggers hold of their city. It is also the image that visitors take home with them. As a result, our reputation as a city rests with our downtown."
Plan Winnipeg - 2020 Vision

The MTS Centre, a fifteen thousand seat multi-purpose arena in downtown Winnipeg, is already in the record books as the 25th best attended stadium in the world in 2005. MTS Centre can also accommodate up to 17,000 concert-goers, and can be curtained down to create intimate concert entertainment settings for smaller audiences.

The ice surface can convert from standard North American professional hockey dimensions (85 ft. by 200 ft.) to international hockey dimensions (100 ft. by 200 ft.). The rink boards and first six rows of seating are easily removed to create 30,000 square feet of exhibition floor space.

The design incorporates the features and spectator amenities of the best new- generation entertainment and sports centres built across North America in recent years. This includes a private suite level, rental party suites, an extensive club seat package, quality food outlets, and a Moxie's restaurant. It also features three wide concourses, a Moose sports retail store, ample washrooms and the redevelopment of the old Eaton's Powerhouse into the sports pub, Tavern United, as well as several floors of new office space. The MTS Centre project cost $133.5 million to build.

The first principles of the design are excellent sight lines from every seat, superb acoustics for concerts and the best ambience and amenities for sports of all kinds - hockey, basketball, curling, arena football, lacrosse, and indoor soccer.

Precast concrete is always a serious option for arena construction and was the product of choice with the design and construction team. Winter construction and a tight schedule made precast the right solution. Precast was utilized for all the main staircases, the bleachers, vomitory walls and stairs. In addition, the ice level structural frame was precast.

Phase one involved the demolition of the century-old Eaton's Building and annex, and clearing the 147,000-square-foot site for the new complex. Phase two consisted of construction of the building. The concrete superstructure was built over a period of eight months using over 20,000 cubic yards of concrete and over 616,000 square feet of formwork. The concrete work was completed using PCL's labour force and equipment that included four freestanding tower cranes.

The original schedule for the construction phase was 24 months. Working closely with the ownership group, PCL undertook a number of initiatives to reduce the project duration to 21 months. This gave the owner earlier access to the building to begin hosting events and earning revenue.

Some measures taken to meet the opening date included doubling the quantity of formwork, increasing the labour force and working overtime through the concrete work.
All other construction activities were tendered to trade contractors. PCL, however, provided on-site supervision to these trades and bore responsibility for scheduling their activities. Both the self-performed concrete work and the subcontracted work yielded a number of project management challenges that needed to be organized and managed. The final project schedule required over 1,100 activities to be performed by the project team, consisting of PCL, nine consulting groups, a diverse ownership group (with subtrades working for them), and 35 subtrades under contract to PCL. All activities had to take place within an extremely aggressive schedule, on a tight job site, for the highest profile project in Manitoba at that time.

Sink Combs Dethlefs architects were familiar with precast concrete from its use in the design of other facilities. This facilitated an effective design process. Precast concrete was specified because of the tight schedule and its natural fit with this type of structure.
Precast components included: staircases, columns, raker beams, vomitory walls and bleachers. In total some 1500 precast units were produced for this project.

Precast manufacturing and erection went well. Single L-shaped bleacher sections were selected mainly to suit tower crane lift capacity limits. To accelerate the schedule, the precast field team worked at night. As the only trade working at night, excellent productivity was achieved and the 1,500 precast pieces were erected at a rate of up to 50 units a shift. The staging of loads was also facilitated by working at night as the congested downtown location and traffic management during the day would have been a serious issue.

Credits:Owner: The MTS Centre Project Group
Architect: Sink Combs Dethlefs/Number 10 Architectural Group Joint Venture
General Contractor: PCL Constructors Canada Inc.
Engineer: Martin & Martin Consulting Engineers/Crosier Kilgour & Partners Joint Venture
Precaster: Lafarge Precast (Winnipeg Division)

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