UW-Madison's La Bahn Arena Marks U.S. Debut of Revolutionary BubbleDeck Technology

Madison, WI -- The La Bahn Arena, currently under construction in the heart of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's (UW) downtown campus, premiered the use of BubbleDeck technology in the United States yesterday. Both innovative and internationally award-winning, BubbleDeck is a unique patented integration system of linking air, steel and concrete in a two-way structural slab. The system is especially unique in the way it incorporates recycled plastic bubbles to eliminate concrete. The result radically improves building design and performance while reducing overall construction cost.

The La Bahn Arena is a 98,250 assignable square feet (ASF)/ 120,000 gross square feet (GSF), four level facility adjacent to UW-Madison's Kohl Center Arena. Named after lead donors Charles (UW-Madison '49) and Mary Ann La Bahn, the arena will house a 90 by 200 foot ice sheet for men's and women's hockey practice and women's hockey games as well as team locker rooms for both home and visiting teams. It will also feature office suites and support spaces for women's hockey and locker and team room functions for the men's and women's swimming programs. The arena will seat approximately 2,400 spectators.

The La Bahn Arena project team is comprised of four Wisconsin-based, first-class firms that represent the best in their respective industries, including Findorff, GRAEF, Spancrete and KahlerSlater. The team collectively pursued bringing BubbleDeck to the U.S. after plans for the La Bahn Arena raised a unique challenge: how to creatively and cost-effectively construct an underground walkway directly beneath a thoroughfare that was required to support 80,000 pound emergency vehicles.

The project team found their solution in BubbleDeck. The system virtually eliminates dead weight concrete from the middle of a floor slab by incorporating recycled plastic bubbles as a void. The system can facilitate up to 50 percent longer spans between columns, and the construction does not require beams, which allows architects greater design freedom. The slab is connected directly to cast-in-place concrete columns, producing a wide range of cost and construction benefits.

"Completing the final stage of the BubbleDeck installation was such a rewarding experience, especially knowing it is the first time it's been done in the U.S.," said Dave Beck-Engel, Executive Vice President, Findorff. "Not only did we find a way to overcome the challenge of this unique arena development, we shaved three days off of our projected construction time and reduced overall cost by an estimated $25,000."

In addition to time and cost benefits, BubbleDeck technology also reduced La Bahn Arena worksite risk through off-site manufacturing and a simple installation process, as well as supported the project's LEED Silver building specifications by reducing carbon emissions that typically arise from traditional construction methods.

The project, which officially broke ground in May 2011, has a projected completion and occupancy date of October 2012.

For additional information or to view La Bahn Arena renderings and photos of the construction process, please visit the following online resources: La Bahn Arena renderings; Project overview and construction photos.

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