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Getting the Sports Science Center Open For Free Agency: The Roles of Prefab & BIM

Katie Muth

Designed to be a home away from home for one of the NBA’s fastest rising sports team, the Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin Sports Science Center / Milwaukee Bucks Training Center offers state-of-the-art amenities with a hospitality feel in an urban setting. Catering to the Milwaukee Bucks (Bucks), while also welcoming the local community, the facility is a tailored experience in itself. From the moment players pull into the luxury SUV sized private parking structure equipped with a carwash, to the time they relax in custom sized furniture after practice, they are immersed in spaces specifically designed with them in mind. Top-of-the-line amenities make this a welcoming, second home for Bucks players and personnel. In addition to the amenities, state-of-the-art technologies make this a top-tier training center in the NBA, giving the Bucks a distinct advantage when it comes to on-court improvement and player recruitment.

During the construction of this project, one major challenge was schedule. JP Cullen proposed completing the project in 12 months, two months earlier than the original schedule. Turning over the facility in June meant the Bucks could be open for free agency on July 1. This was important for player recruitment to showcase their facility to potential players. Two tools aided in schedule acceleration: prefabrication and Building Information Modeling (BIM).

Prefabrication offers a streamlined process that results in fewer errors, greater efficiencies and higher quality, translating to schedule and cost savings.  At the Sports Science Center, prefabrication of exterior walls was done to enclose the building as soon as possible so partitions, studs, drywall, and MEPF overhead rough-ins could be done in an enclosed facility during winter. All stairs were fabricated off-site and put into place. Lastly, we met with the MEPF subcontractors to develop opportunities for prefabrication such as overhead piping and ductwork. In total, prefabrication saved 7 weeks on the schedule.


Prefabrication of exterior metal panels was particularly unique. The typical process required field measuring prior to ordering, but the schedule didn’t allow for this because the lead time on the zinc panels is typically 16+ weeks for this size project. The panel process started with casting/rolling the zinc in Tennessee, then sent to Illinois to be rolled out and cut to size, and then sent to Texas for the patina finish (a slow, tedious process done by hand). Next they were shipped to Missouri to be formed/ fabricated into the exact interlocking size panels, and finally shipped to the site for installation. The installation had to be done left to right and bottom to top – if installed any other way, they wouldn’t line up correctly, and we would have to start over. Due to this, we modeled everything and all trades/ material suppliers committed to holding the dimensions of window/door openings. If we hadn’t used BIM to model the panels and aid in planning the work, the installation would have been a guessing game.

BIM, specifically MEPF coordination, was critical in accelerating schedule and resolving conflicts before material was produced and construction was underway. It kept high clearances in the parking garage by re-routing mechanical ductwork, located where the precast coring needed to be for plumbing runs between floors, located interferences between ductwork, metal joists, and other MEPF runs, determined the grease exhaust needed to be relocated, pinpointed lights that needed to shift because they were in the same location as diffusers, addressed storm drain protection over the courts, and addressed how to hang/run mechanicals through the chase along the weight room because of lack of attachment locations. The team found 50+ conflicts and resolved hundreds of clashes, resulting in ZERO mechanical clashes during construction.



BIM was particularly important for the double precast rib system on the first floor. The plumbing designer noticed a majority of plumbing penetrations for the sinks/toilets/showers were directly over a precast rib, which couldn’t be penetrated. We used the fabricator’s precast model and inserted into ours. From there, we overlaid the model with the architectural plans and modified walls/fixtures so they were no longer running over the ribs. This process allowed us to catch this issue early on – if it would have been later, most walls would have been installed,! and it would have easily added a month to schedule. BIM also aided in prefabrication and assembly of exterior walls with the zinc metal panels, which was very complex and critical to schedule.




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May 28, 2024