Specifying Architect Reflects on Arena Coatings


The night that PPG Paints Arena (formerly Consol Energy Center) opened was one of the prouder moments of Kurt Amundsen’s career.

A principal senior architect at Populous (Kansas City, Missouri), Amundsen specified the first National Hockey League arena to get a LEED Gold Certification, and said that the warm reception the building received from the people of Pittsburgh seven years ago was a highlight.

“We always try to establish designs that are specific to the market we’re in,” Amundsen told Durability + Design News in a phone interview. “In Pittsburgh, we went a couple different directions initially.”

Amundsen explained that, at first, the design for the arena was quite progressive, mimicking the joining of the rivers. That design ended up getting tweaked in a more conservative direction to the 700,000-square-foot span seen today, one that mimics the brick architecture found throughout the city (along with glass and steel, of course).

“As far as coatings—the exterior is brick, so we didn’t use a lot on the exterior,” Amundsen said.

What was critical, though, because of the construction timeline (about two years from groundbreaking to opening night), was the coating the structural steel.

An epoxy protective coating from Pittsburgh-based PPG’s protective and marine coatings business was specified for application to the structural steel: PPG’s Ameron 68HS, a three-component, zinc-rich epoxy.

David Fulmer, CC-BA-SY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

An epoxy protective coating from Pittsburgh-based PPG’s protective and marine coatings business was specified for application to the structural steel: Pitt-Guard rapid-coat, direct-to-rust epoxy.

For the amount of exposure the steel would have to withstand during the construction process, the coating was an important specification. In addition to the building material protection in Pittsburgh’s climate, Amundsen said, all of the coating specs were vital in achieving the winning goal: a LEED Gold certification.

“They were vital not so much in what proper selection does for you, but more critically, it only takes one mis-specified product to really hurt your chances of achieving the certification level that you want.”

Going with PPG products, a local source, was a step in achieving that certification. Approximately 5,000 gallons of paint were used on the arena, and included PPG Speedhide products (drywall primer, eggshell latex paint and interior flat latex paint), Pitt-Glaze water-borne acrylic epoxy, Pitt-Guard rapid-coat, direct-to-rust epoxy and Pitt-Tech’s interior/exterior satin direct-to-metal industrial enamel.

(Years later, after PPG received naming rights to the facility, signs were made using Matthews Paints, which are actually sold through PPG’s automotive sector.)

The $321 million facility needed to get 38 points for its Gold certification. It earned 42.

“They don’t grade you on a curve, so to speak,” Amundsen said, noting that everything had to be at 100 percent—at the top of its game—down to the treatments on interior wood products.

“That was in our heads with everything that was specified,” he said. “It really has to be.”


Tagged categories: Coating selection; Coatings Technology; North America; PPG; Specification; Specification writing; Stadiums/Sports Facilities

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