STORRS, Conn. - There is plenty of activity in Gampel Pavilion this summer - but it's not the usual kind.
Gampel, home to UConn's men's and women's basketball and women's volleyball teams, is a regular hub of activity on the Storrs campus with games and other events.
Right now, however, it's sealed off to the public as a massive repair job to the roof and ceiling of the building has begun. Prep work for the project started right after Commencement in May and the project will conclude at the end of October - in time for the start of basketball season.
That prep work included protection covering for the scoreboards, removal of the national championship banners and covering the various heating and cooling system vents.
Gampel Pavilion opened in 1990 and the construction of the roof was innovative for its time, including a network of metal clad panels with a fabric-wrapped insulated cover on the interior. As Gampel Pavilion has aged over the past 28 years, the fabric wrap has started to tear and flake. In addition, the sealant on the exterior of the dome has started to wear-off, causing leaks to become more common.
A budget of $10 million for the repair work was approved by the UConn Board of Trustees at the group's meeting on January 25, 2017.
The repair work does mean, however, that the women's volleyball team will be playing home matches in Guyer Gym in the Hugh S. Greer Field House for the fall 2017 season and that the annual First Night activities for the men's and women's basketball teams will be on hiatus for a year.
"We are working with 2,100 individual panels to bring down to the floor via a pulley system," said Lou Gaedt, a construction engineer for UConn's Office of University Planning, Design and Construction, who is overseeing the project.
The panels are brought down six at a time in hexagons and each panel is rewrapped with new fabric and insulation.
"The new fabric on the panels will make Gampel Pavilion much brighter for games," said Gaedt. "The panels we are replacing not only started to flake, but they had also turned yellow. With the new LED lighting system we have in here and the new panels, the building is going to look terrific."
The panels are being lowered starting in the middle and the top of the roof and the construction team, which numbers 30 to 50 workers per day, is at it six days a week. Gaedt and his team has an extensive numbering system in place with intricate diagrams to organize the job and make sure it stays on schedule.
In addition to the interior work, the exterior of the dome will get new battens and gaskets as the original ones are still in place, but need to be replaced due to years of weather and exposure to the elements.
There will also be a new cabling system for the catwalks of Gampel Pavilion installed as part of the project.