Pit Tile Work
A construction worker drills a mechanical fastener into a tile to help secure it to the substrate as part of the work to repair tiles at University Arena, "The Pit."

Construction crews are hard at work at University Arena, “The Pit,” to repair a post-remodeling construction safety concern in time for the upcoming basketball season. Several stone tiles, located on the façades both inside and outside, dislodged and fell last year after renovation of the famed arena was complete.

Since then, the architectural and engineering design consultants along with the general contractor and masonry contractor involved in the remodel have researched the best possible method to repair of this situation. The solution is a three-pronged fix that will permanently alleviate any future problems with the tiles.

The craftsmen are testing each of the more than 32,000 tiles that make up the stone façades both inside and outside of the Pit. Each tile is vigorously tapped with a rubber mallet to test whether or not it has a solid bond to the system substrate. If the tapping of the tiles generates a hollow sound or seems in any way not fully adhered to the substrate, the tiles are removed and the tile is reset to the substrate with a full coating of the specified mastic. Next the masons drill a hole in the center of the 32,000 tiles and install mechanical fastener to doubly secure the tiles to the substrate. Workers are taking the extra step to make sure each tile is secure regardless of whether or not the tile was deemed acceptable or if it was replaced. Aesthetically, workers then put trowel a mixture of the sealant and bonding adhesive to face of the tile where the mechanical fastener was installed and smooth the finish.

“We took our time and allowed the design and contracting team to determine the best repair for the tiles,” University Architect Robert Doran said. “They came up with the solution at no cost to the University.”

Doran stated that the inside tile remediation will be completed in time for the upcoming basketball season, which begins Nov. 2 for both the men’s and women’s teams with exhibition games at The Pit. The work on the outside façade will continue, at first around the entrances to ensure maximum patron safety, and then extending around the building where the tiles are located. Work on the outside of the building should continue through the month of November.

Initially, the general contractor put up protective barriers to avoid any possibility of accident or injury to patrons until a permanent solution could be reached.

Additional measures were added later with the installation of banners inside the Pit, which provided an extra measure of protection and also an element of decoration celebrating the Lobo Basketball teams success.

"This was not a structural issue, it was a façade veneer issue," Doran explained. "The project architects and engineers, as well as the construction manager, have been working with the University from the beginning to insure safety and to resolve the issue as soon as possible."