WEBER STATE UNIVERSITY
The construction of the $11.3 million Dee Events Center represents the combined efforts and cooperation of students, college, and community members for the development of a functional and beautiful special events facility for the area.
In addition to those funds provided through student fees and revenue bonds, more than $5 million was raised from private sources in a variety of memorialization program. Highlight of the fund drive was the contribution of more than $2 million from the Lawrence T. Dee and Donnell B. Stewart families.
Officially designated the Dee Events Center by the Institutional Council of the college in honor of the common ancestry shared by the donor families, the Dee Events Center will further memorialize a proud name long associated with health, education and service to the people of this area.
After more than five years of preliminary efforts, study and planning, the architectural firm of Robert A. Fowler and Associates of Salt Lake City was assigned the task of designing a 12,000 seat facility as a cultural-athletic special events center for the college. The structural engineers were Reaveley Engineers & Associates of Salt Lake City with Nielsen Associates of Pocatello, Idaho as electrical engineers and Bridgers & Paxton from Albuquerque, New Mexico as mechanical engineers. The general contract was awarded to the firm of Acord-Harris Construction of Granger, Utah.
The basic design of the building consists of a large concrete circular bowel-shaped form capped with a wooden dome. Four entry portals lead to the concourse which provides access to the various levels of the building.
On March 21, 1975, after nearly two years of delay and frustration occasioned by legal matters and funding problems, ground breaking ceremonies were conducted for the gigantic project. The fall and winter of the year saw massive earth moving and site grading o provide drainage and foundation preparations. This was followed by the pouring of concrete footings to support the mammoth structure. More than 12,000 cubic yards of concrete were used in the construction of the building alone representing a weight of 24,300 tons or nearly 50 million pounds. Over 345 tons of steel and 1,750 tons of concrete were used. The concrete seating areas were constructed in a series of pours using portable forms which were rotated around the building.
An interesting feature of the construction was the use of a significant landmark on the mountain range east of the facility as a survey point of reference for the entire building.
Following the completion of the upper level of the seating area the building began to assume its final shape and the outer perimeter wall was capped by a giant compression ring which supports the roof. The dome of the Dee Events Center was designed and fabricated by the Koppers Firm using the Triax System of construction. The dome is 309 feet 4 inches in diameter, in its self 32-1/2 feet tall, but the apex of the roof is 101 feet above the playing floor. The dome has a surface area of nearly 83,000 square feet or approximately two acres.
The first wooden beams were lifted into place July 1, 1976. The beams alone represent a combined weight of 166 tons. The total weight of the dome including decking and roofing is slightly over one million pounds. The component parts of the roofing system, beams and supporting members were prefabricated before installation and were bolted into place on site without any need of correction. The entire roof weighs approximately 450 tons and suspended from it are scoreboards, sound and lighting systems which add another 150 tons of weight.
As part of this design the dome was structurally analyzed by a computer for 20 of the mist critical types of design loading including windstorm, earthquake, stress, weight, etc. Each member in joint was then designed to carry then maximum load that any of these conditions would create. The bottom member of dome is the steel tension or compression ring that absorbs all of the outward force so that only the weight of the dome is transmitted to the structure below. The tensile force in the ring beam is 450 tons. The final "keystone" section in the center of the dome was fitted into place on April 16, 1977.
The roof deck consisting of rectangular laminated wood sections of 2 x 6 tongue and groove two-inches thick was then placed over the beams. A four-inch acoustic insulation was then applied to the interior surface and the exterior surface was covered with tar and roofing material to completely weather seal the roof. The final covering was a coat of a plastic type spray paint in buff color which was sprayed over the entire two-acre dome to harmonize with the rust-colored fascia and the surrounding area.
The construction of the fascia around the building followed closely the basic construction of the dome. The fascia acts as a giant plenum of duct for the distribution of air throughout the facility. It is covered with Korten steel, a special material which allows a controlled rate of oxidation or rusting. Exposure to the elements eventually produces a weatherproof coating of harmonizing rust-brown which requires no further maintenance or painting.
While the weather was generally favorable during the main period of construction the winter of 1976-77 found the facility some-what behind schedule and the initial completion date of April 15, 1977 was extended to August 15 of that year and later extended to October 1977.
The bid for landscaping and parking was awarded to the firm of Gibbons & Reed Construction Co. of Ogden, Utah and this phase of the project began in the spring of 1977. The 43-acre site surrounding the building will provide approximately 3,000 parking spaces for the facility and provides for entry and exits to Harrison Boulevard on the west, 4600 South on the south, and Country Hills Drive to the north. During the summer months of 1977 the interior roof was completed with acoustic and fire retardant material installed around its base. During the same period of time the huge light support ring which houses special lighting, the scoreboard and sound system was fabricated and lifted into place. This giant circular "doughnut" represents a total weight of 150 tons. The circular scoreboard contained in the inner area of the ring also supports the sound system and public address speakers located in a cone beneath the scoreboard itself. The installation of the approximately 12,000 chair backed seats occurred in the late summer months utilizing a red accent to compliment the purple and white school colors interior. The first 26 rows of seating feature a cushioned, chair back type seat with the remaining 13 rows having a molded plastic chair bottom with the same back and arm rests as the lower area.
A host of additional features compliment the entire structure and were designed for multi use of the facilities. Twenty portals permit rapid entry and exit to the arena area from the concourse which completely surrounds the building. Designed with a number of display areas, the concourse will permit art shows and a variety of programs including exhibitions, arts, crafts and displays etc. A ground level entrance permits wheelchairs and handicapped patrons to the facility without the necessity of climbing any stairs or steps. A beautiful reception room with ground level entrance will be used for a variety of receptions, seminars and classes for college and community use. Rest rooms, concession stands and office space are located around the concourse for the convenience of patrons attending the various events. Approximately 680 tons of air conditioning capacity will provide year around climate control. The lower concourse area contains dressing rooms for athletes, performers, service, storage, weight training and other mechanical features of the building.
A truck ramp large enough to accommodate semi-trailers will permit vehicle access directly to the playing floor area. Parking will be completed and utility lines for water and lighting installed in 1977. The landscaping of the building and grounds including grass, shrubs and trees were completed in the summer of 1978.
Dedication of the facility was scheduled for November 1, 1977 as a feature of homecoming week of the college. A number of special events including pop concerts and cultural programs are being scheduled with the first use of the facility for an athletic event being the Weber State - Long Beach State basketball game on November 29, 1977 (Weber State defeated Long Beach State, 99-96 in overtime).
A combined effort of many hands and hearts that figured in its planning, development and financial support, the magnificent Dee Events Center stands today as a proud symbol of unity and progress; a tribute to the college, the community and the family whose name it proudly bears.