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February 13, 2012
Member News

Major Renovations Bring New Life to Three Community Ice Rinks

By Matt Heckendorn, AIA

The children of Philadelphia recently got to open three new gifts from the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation (ESYHF): Scanlon Ice Rink; Laura Sims Skatehouse at Cobb’s Creek; and the rink at Simons Recreation and Teen Access Center. Built in the 1960s, the facilities have been expanded, enclosed and renovated for a total of $13 million. Each now has a fully-renovated rink area, along with accessory spaces, such as skate sharpening rooms, kitchenettes, class rooms, activity rooms, and dressing rooms. Carried out by Heckendorn Shiles Architects of Wayne, PA, the revamp of these buildings has helped double the current capacity of the Snider Hockey after-school program to accommodate approximately 5,000 children.
“For many children, these are more than rinks; they are bright, positive places where a child can grow physically, socially and emotionally,” says foundation president Scott Tharp.
The person behind the programs and the rink renovations is Philadelphia’s iconic entrepreneur and sports visionary, Ed Snider. Snider brought the Philadelphia Flyers National Hockey League franchise to the city. He was also the driving force behind the construction of the Spectrum.
Snider Hockey was established in 2005 to bring the “the greatest game ever invented” to children who otherwise might never have the opportunity to play. The Foundation has annually provided 3,000-plus Philadelphia area children with the equipment, ice time and experienced coaching needed to play hockey. The program also features an educational component, with special emphasis on teamwork and goal setting.
In 2008, Snider heard about three dilapidated city rinks that were on the verge of closing. He decided to check them out and see if they would be a good fit for his program. ESYHF was already funding and administering programming at two other Philadelphia city rinks. Snider visited the Scanlon rink in the low-income Kensington neighborhood. While there, he witnessed an impressive display of hockey enthusiasm by the mostly-Hispanic fans watching a game there.
Right then, he knew that Scanlon, along with Laura Sims and Simons rinks, would be worth renovating and expanding. Snider’s Foundation put up $6.5 to match the Commonwealth's $6.5 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program contribution. The design process began in 2010.
Heckendorn Shiles Architects’ design objective was to transform the three rinks from seasonal facilities operating primarily December through March, to fully-enclosed and conditioned year-round buildings. All three buildings showed significant amounts of damage and wear, from floor and wall finishes to plumbing fixtures, furniture and equipment.
The 30,000 square foot Scanlon rink was by far in the roughest condition. It had a substantial amount of graffiti and vandalism, and its structure was severelydamaged in certain areas. The design team had most of the public accessory spaces gutted in preparation for a complete overhaul of the space.
The Scanlon rink now has a much nicer layout with new restrooms, locker rooms, a skate sharpening room and kitchenette. Clean new finishes, in bright, sharp colors were installed throughout. Approximately 22,000 square feet of rink area is now enclosed, while 1600 square feet has been added to the building, to include an activity room, staff office, and storefront entrance.
Improvements were made to Scanlon’s exterior, as well. The original entrance consisted of an inconspicuous single door that faced a playground, away from the street. During the revamp, a new and more prominent storefront entry was located on the east side of the building, facing the street and sending a stronger, more welcoming message to visitors and the surrounding community.The Simons Recreation Center was originally a cold, open shell of an ice rink, connected to a larger fully-enclosed recreation center. The objective for the designers working on this West Oak Lane facility was to expand the existing recreation center, modernize restrooms and dressing rooms, and provide a reinvigorated 'anchor' for the recreation center, and for the neighborhood, overall.
About 21,000 square feet of the rink area was enclosed, while 700 square feet was added. The new addition also included a ramp/corridor to connect to the rink to the existing recreation center.
The Simons rink stands prominently at the East Walnut Lane and Woolston Avenue corner. Extensive exterior improvements – including new lighting - have helped brighten the rink area and provide a much stronger and visible connection to the recreation center.
The renovation work at the Laura Sims facility meant giving a nice face lift to the rink area, with new dasher boards, finishes, and lighting. Sims is 31,000 square feet. Approximately 25,000 square feet of the open rink area was enclosed. Other improvements included new classroom space and modernized restrooms and dressing rooms. Laura Sims also underwent exterior enhancements. The original entrance to the rink was closed in and not very welcoming. That changed dramatically when the entrance was replaced with a transparent 200 square foot open storefront entrance with a canopy.
Working within the confines of these three existing structure presented multiple challenges for the design team.
“These buildings were originally built and designed as open-air structures, so many of the existing built conditions would not allow for easy implementation of insulation and weather barriers, especially at the existing roof,” explains project architect Matt Heckendorn, AIA LEED AP. “We had to adapt specially-designed building systems used in cases similar to ours.”
To renovate and install new insulation and weather barriers into the existing roof system - without going over budget in cost - the design team used a previously developed and tested retrofit insulation system created for comparable roof structures.
To get the high level of quality required for insulating the rink enclosure, the Heckendorn Shiles team used spray foam insulation in lieu of the traditional fiberglass insulation. Heckendorn notes that this created a more complete and seamless design. The foam itself includes renewable soy oil, meeting performance requirements while being also very environmentally friendly.
For durability, a number of methods and materials were employed: New rubber flooring was installed in areas over-run with ice skates; concrete block and impact-resistant drywall were installed as interior walls; corrugated metal wall panels and puncture-resistant fabric were installed around the perimeter of the rink area, providing a durable and clean looking finish; and protective grates/covers were placed over light fixtures, windows and thermostats.
As they enclosed the rinks at Simons and Scanlon, the Heckendorn Shiles team installed durable and translucent wall panels called Kalwall, bringing natural daylight into the rinks. To create an even brighter environment, white ceiling fabric was installed over the rink area.
On November 22, 2011, the first of three ribbon cuttings for the newly-renovated facilities took place at the Laura Sims rink. Snider, expressed his happiness with the new rinks and the prospect of helping more Philadelphia kids: "This is absolutely spectacular. We had seen it in the plans, and watched it come together, but to see this all come to fruition, it has exceeded my wildest dreams.”

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