Penn State University opened its newest sports facility in the summer of 1999. The new Indoor Track Facility replaces an outdated facility which was demolished to make room for the new football training facility. The building, named Multisport Facility, contains two portions, the Box and the Program Building. The 115,000-sq-ft Box houses the 200-meter track with hydraulically banked curves, a 56-yard Astroturf field, weight training facility, and the spectator stand. The Program Building contains the public spaces such as offices and locker room facilities.

The architectural firms NBBJ (Columbus, OH) and Hoffman Popovich (Boalsburg, PA) teamed with Parfitt/Ling Consulting Engineers (State College, PA) and construction manager Barclay White (Blue Bell, PA) to undertake the project under a fast-track scenario. After budget constraints emerged, the engineer replaced the all-air mechanical system with a cross ventilation system for cooling and a low-intensity infrared system for heating. This reduced mechanical system and both mechanical and general construction costs, the mechanical room space requirement, and resulted in significant annual fuel savings which made the design very appealing to the university.

The building is sited in a valley located below Beaver Stadium and Bryce Jordon Center, a favorite spot for kite flying. The engineer took advantage of the prevailing wind direction and the profile of the building to develop a cross-ventilation strategy.

The architect designed a stainless steel, asymmetrically curved roof over the track and the field. The roof rises from a height of 35 ft on the west side to a high point of 45 ft above the track near the midpoint. At the east facade, the roof is slightly lower than the high point. This profile, in conjunction with the building being sited perpendicular to the prevailing wind, provided an opportunity to cross-ventilate the Box.

Twenty air changes per hour were designed to be delivered through 8- by 8-ft louvers on the west facade. Outside air is introduced into the upper and lower concourses behind the spectator seating. On the higher east facade, sidewall propeller fans are placed in the center of each 25 ft bay just below the roofline. The 19 prop fans and the inlet and outlet dampers are controlled in three stages in response to indoor temperature.

The 115,000-sq-ft Box uses zoned, low-intensity infrared heaters to keep participants and spectators comfortable.

Low-Intensity Infrared Heating

Given the large volume of the Box and Penn State's cost-effective experience with low-intensity infrared heating in Holuba Hall (the 110,000-sq-ft indoor football practice facility), Roberts Gordon® Corayvac® heaters were selected as the sole heating system for the Box. Low-intensity infrared heaters heat the floor and the occupants of the building from 35 ft above the track. The Box uses 3,500 ft of heaters, zoning the track separately from the spectator stands. This unique design allows the facility to satisfy the different comfort requirements of event participants and spectators.

The Corayvac system consists of a series of 34 100-MBtuh gas burners. Reflectors are mounted above the heat exchanger tubing to direct the radiant energy to the floor. The installation resembles a continuous array of fluorescent light troffers. To protect the reflectors from damage from stray sneakers and other flying projectiles, a protective cage was provided for the full length of the heaters. Parfitt/Ling Consulting Engineers worked closely with Roberts Gordon independent distributor Herrmann Associates, Inc (Pittsburgh) to finalize the unique infrared design.

On the upper concourse behind the spectator stands, individual Caribe® low-intensity infrared heaters were placed directly in front of the inlet louvers. The modular Caribe heaters are 8 ft in length and 30 MBtuh each. Placing the Caribe heater directly in front of each 8-ft by 8-ft grille raised the surface temperature of the cross-ventilation system grille, providing an acceptable mean radiant temperature for the walkway adjacent to the air intakes.

Controlling Incoming Air

Controlling the temperature of the incoming air was not possible in the 18 in. of wall thickness allowed for the natural ventilation intakes. Consequently, two indirect gas-fired Customaire air handlers and a large, round spiral duct were installed to provide 20,000 cfm of heated ventilation air to the Box. One of the Customaire units also served to heat the storage and lower concourse area.

The Program Building is air conditioned by a third Customaire unit with a Trane (La Crosse, WI) air-cooled chiller.

There are large public washrooms to accommodate the 1,200-spectator occupancy load. Locker room and toilet exhaust air volumes were calculated based on the floor area of these large rooms. It was recognized that the occupancy load would seldom reach the design level. Therefore, the ventilation systems for the Program Building were designed with two levels of operation, the lower ventilation level for normal occupancy and a higher level for event days.

Kudos All Around

Penn State's Multisport Facility has been in operation for one year. In its inaugural season, Big Ten track meets were held there and the facility also hosted the PLAA state track finals. The facility recently treated the National Governor's Association conferees to a Penn State-style tailgate party. The local paper reported neighboring New Jersey Governor Christine T. Whitman, on her first trip to Happy Valley, saying she relished every minute of the tailgate.

"This is fabulous, very nice," Whitman said of the Multisport Facility. "It's very state-of-the-art, but then again (Penn State) produces some state-of-the-art athletes," she said. ES