August 13, 2020
A view of the renovated presidential suite at Arizona Stadium with the football field in clear view.
DPR Construction recently renovated parts of the historic Arizona Stadium, including the university president’s box. Photo courtesy of Austin Tepper

Virtual design and construction helped push a project over the goal line at the University of Arizona’s football stadium. DPR Construction recently renovated the Skybox Club, ten Skybox Suites and the university president’s box in the historic Arizona Stadium. The upgrades to the premium open-air seating area near the 50-yard line and presidential suite were designed to completely change the fan experience and create new opportunities for university advancement when play resumes.

The 10,000-sq.-ft. interior renovation on the third floor included upgraded finishes, new fixtures and furnishings, updated ADA accessibility and a new operable window. The scope also included restroom renovations, updates to the concessions support spaces and installation of LED lighting and displays. The improvements are part of a major west-side renovation to the stadium.

DPR’s Special Services Group (SSG) was enlisted to perform the improvements. With a focus on small to mid-size projects, the team has expertise delivering greater value on upgrades, renovations, remodels and reconfigurations. The DPR team also self-performed drywall.

A look into the Skybox Suites at Arizona Stadium with downtown Tucson in view.
The Skybox Suites offer picturesque views of downtown Tucson and the mountains. Photo courtesy of Austin Tepper

Construction was completed in a three-month time span. DPR project manager Taylor Fulkerson said the combination of the SSG team and self-perform work was key to adhering to the strict timeline.

“DPR’s SSG group focuses on projects that are five million dollars or less. They can mobilize quickly, maintain quality and successfully meet aggressive deadlines,” said Fulkerson. “Self-performing a critical trade allowed us to start work earlier in the field and fast-track the schedule.”

To upgrade the look and feel of the space, DPR texturized exposed concrete walls to match the finishes of framed walls to provide consistency in the space. The new metal panel ceiling required extreme precision for installation because the design required lights to be mounted on the surface. The electricians provided “literal white glove service” to protect the ceiling from scuffs during their work said Fulkerson.

A view of the social area with tables and chairs in the third level Skybox Suites in Arizona Stadium.
The Skybox Club offers a premium seating area located on the west side between the 35 and 45-yard lines on the third level of the Skyboxes. Photo courtesy of Austin Tepper

Scoring with Virtual Reality

Satisfied with the third-floor Skybox Club and suite improvements, the university asked if similar renovations on a smaller scale could be completed on the second floor. The client wanted a single suite that could be used as a showroom to solicit donor interest in upgraded accommodations. With an even tighter timeline for this exhibition space, DPR alternatively proposed and built a virtual reality model to help support the fundraising efforts.

“Virtual reality was a game-changer for this small project that required a quick turnaround,” said DPR VDC manager Dustin Ridley. “We were able to deliver a high quality and low-cost solution.” The virtual mockup reduced costs by 90 percent compared to a full-scale suite build-out.

DPR’s technical partner vConstruct used rendering tools and photos from similar stadium suites to map materials to the mockup and create a highly detailed virtual environment. The final product allowed donors to interact with the space exactly as they would in a walk-through. Chairs could be moved, and mini refrigerator doors could be opened during the interactive tour when participants were hooked up to a virtual reality headset.

“The model allows the university to conduct customer interest research and begin planning the additional level of suites,” said Ridley. “With VR, fans can give feedback and the design is a collaborative process.”