Pearland Recreation Center and Natatorium

Houston, Texas

Matt Smiddy - Construction Management Option


Rendering courtesy of PBK 


Thesis Proposal

Updated Final Proposal – 3/17/2010

Updated Final Proposal – 2/2/2010

Updated Final Proposal – 1/12/2010

Final Proposal - 12/07/2009

This proposal is an introduction to four technical analysis topics of the Pearland Recreation Center and Natatorium building that will be researched in more depth.  These research topics include a comparison of steel versus a glulam structural system, comparison of a cooling tower versus a chiller system, analyzing project team interaction, and a comparison of a welded versus a bolted connection for glulam arches.


Analysis #1 – Breadth Topic #1

Pearland Recreation Center and Natatorium is currently designed with a glulam structural system in the natatorium while the rest of the building uses a structural steel system.  A comparative analysis between steel and concrete and glulam structural systems focusing on construction cost, schedule, constructability, and life cycle costs could produce useful results. This research will involve calculating the structural building loads and will therefore constitute a structural breadth topic.


Analysis #2 – Breadth Topic #2

Currently the Pearland Recreation Center and Natatorium has a chiller system, however initially the owner insisted on using a cooling tower system.  It would be interesting to compare the cost, schedule, and constructability issues associated with each type of system.  This comparison will require calculating the building’s cooling loads and will consequently be a mechanical breadth topic.


Analysis #3 – Critical Industry Issue, MAE Graduate Level Component

Project team interaction has become a popular topic of discussion in the construction industry.  Various project delivery methods, including the ambiguously defined Integrated Project Delivery Method, have been experimentally applied to projects internationally in an effort to identify the ideal delivery method.  Other aspects of team interaction, including contract types and project team selection, are also being researched.  Analysis of Pearland Recreation Center and Natatorium’s success could glean some useful conclusions that would be useful to future owners in selecting their project team and developing their contracts.


Analysis #4

Erection of the glulam arches in the natatorium of the Pearland Recreation Center and Natatorium was problematic due to the bolted connection that connected the glulam to the concrete footers.  Glulam arches have small tolerances, which causes aligning a bolted connection to be difficult.  Analyzing the alternative of using a welded connection at this location could prove beneficial to future project teams facing a glulam structural system.


Breadth Topics and MAE Graduate Level Component

Technical Analysis #1 – Structural

Currently, the Pearland Recreation Center and Natatorium is designed with a glulam structural system in the natatorium and a structural steel system in the recreation center portion of the building. A glulam structural system costs more to construct, however it is argued that compared to structural concrete and steel, the glulam material holds up better in the humid environment of a natatorium.

This technical analysis will look at the structural redesign necessary to convert the structural system from glulam to structural concrete and steel construction.  In order to obtain a useful cost comparison, it is necessary to know what type of concrete and steel members would be needed in order to support the building’s loads.  This data will be provided from this technical analysis.


Technical Analysis 2 – Mechanical

During the design phase of construction the owners of the Pearland Recreation Center and Natatorium insisted on using a cooling tower system to cool the water for the building’s mechanical system.  PBK, the project architect and MEP engineer, convinced the owner that using a cooling tower system would be unreasonable since the building was only 105,000 SF.  Instead they suggested using a chiller system, which would be a more economical choice given the size of the building.

In order to select the correct cooling tower system, it will be necessary to identify the building cooling loads.  This technical analysis will focus on calculating the building cooling loads for the Pearland Recreation Center and Natatorium.


MAE Graduate Level Component

Research on the critical industry issue of project team interaction will apply concepts learned in CE 531 – Legal Aspects of Engineering and Construction and AE 572 – Project Delivery and Development Planning.  Concepts that were learned in CE 531, which dealt with contracting and litigation, will serve as a foundation of knowledge with which to base contract analysis while comparing different contract types.  Aspects of delivery methods learned in AE 572 will be applied while analyzing the success and failure of various project delivery methods.



This site was last updated by Matt Smiddy on Monday December 07, 2009and is hosted by the AE Department ©2008

Note: While great efforts have been taken to provide accurate and complete information on the pages of CPEP, please be aware that the information contained herewith is considered a work-in-progress for this thesis project. Modifications and changes related to the original building designs and construction methodologies for this senior thesis project are solely the interpretation of Matt Smiddy. Changes and discrepancies in no way imply that the original design contained errors or was flawed. Differing assumptions, code references, requirements, and methodologies have been incorporated into this thesis project; therefore, investigation results may vary from the original design.

The Capstone Project Electronic Portfolio (CPEP) is a web-based project and information center. It contains material produced for a year-long Senior Thesis class. Its purpose, in addition to providing central storage of individual assignments, is to foster communication and collaboration between student, faculty consultants, course instructors, and industry consultants. This website is dedicated to the research and analysis conducted via guidelines provided by the Department of Architectural Engineering. For an explanation of this capstone design course and its requirements click here.

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