However, SHoP wasn't the only firm in an awkward position. In late 2008, FCRC approached EB with a dubious offer it didn't refuse. "Bruce Ratner said, 'I literally want you to take Conseco Field and place it on our site,'" says Stephen J. Duethman, the project manager in Kansas City, Mo., for EB, which, as a result of a merger, operates under AECOM's name.
That strategy was not possible, he adds. But, in 2009, EB did as little as possible to modify its Indianapolis arena so that it would fit into a tight urban site. Then, FCRC and its arena design-build contractor, Hunt Construction Group, developed a guaranteed maximum price.
"[EB] inhaled the Gehry building, rendering it smaller and more compact," says Sanna. "It saved us a lot of money," he adds, declining to be more specific.
The total cost of the facade redesign is $54 million. "We had to make the investment for public reasons," says Sanna.
After SHoP joined, the team regrouped to get the arena finished for a Jay-Z concert on Sept. 28 and the Brooklyn Nets upcoming season. As it turned out, the job was not yet out of the woods.
Last December, the facade fabricator, ASI Ltd., Indianapolis, defaulted financially. Only a third of the job's 564 pre-weathered megapanels were done, none of the 239 halo panels were made and none of the 216 canopy units detailed.
"On Dec. 23, we got a call that ASI's bank had shut the plant and locked the doors," says Gus Yogmour, senior bond claims counsel for ASI's surety, Ohio Farmers Insurance Co.
The surety was committed to picking up the slack. But the geometric complexity and engineering of the curtain wall made that a daunting task. Yogmour says it was the most complex exterior wall he had ever seen.
FCRC and Hunt had required a full- payment performance bond for the original $32.4-million contract. By Jan. 8, the surety had bought out the bank's position and reopened the plant. "We had tried to re-let the contract, but we could not find anyone who could do it in a timely manner," says Yogmour. "There was too great a learning curve."
Instead, the surety hired 190 of ASI's employees, offering incentives to finish the job. Before restarting work, the surety also hired a rust expert to make sure the panels left on the line during the shutdown were properly treated. The surety also retained Fasano Acchione & Associates LLC to manage the job.
To help make up lost time, the surety leased a second, more sophisticated cutting machine. On May 5, the team completed all the enclosure units. The halo and canopy are set to be done next month.
To date, there is no claim from Hunt. "It's a good story," says Yogmour.
Over the summer of 2009, SHoP exported 20 examples of the rain-screen wall's form iterations to TT, using the project's 3D model. "The ability to execute the complex design quickly is a result of using technology embraced previously by all team members," says Thomas Z. Scarangello, TT's chairman and CEO.
"In a very short time, SHoP was able to figure out the building," adds Scarangello. With building information models (BIMs), "we were looking into each other's heads in a deep way, very quickly."
That's in part because SHoP also is committed to virtual design and construction (VDC) tools. "From the very beginning, we understood the power of technology to manage complexity," says Mallie.
In 2007, aiming to better control its designs, SHoP formed SHoP Construction Services. Mallie also is the managing director of the spin-off, which offers construction management and VDC services.