The J.L. Walkup Skydome at Northern Arizona University has undergone its first major renovation since it opened in September 1977. The NAU Skydome is the 2nd largest wood-framed dome in the world at 268,000 square feet with a seating capacity of 16,000. The Skydome is home to the NAU Lumberjack football and basketball teams and is a premier location for conventions and conferences in the Flagstaff area.

Barton Malow Company was chosen to provide CM at Risk services for the renovation, which primarily included upgrades to ADA and safety codes, based on their qualifications and past experience. “We have a lot of experience building sports stadiums as well as renovation projects,” says Jason Mullins, Project Manager. “It was a good fit for our abilities.”

ADA and safety improvements include handrails, wheelchair spaces and access to various areas of the Skydome, egress improvements as well as electrical, mechanical, fire protection and water system upgrades.

Other improvements and renovations include:

  • For the players: new locker rooms and improved training and weight rooms
  • For the media, staff and coaches: A new press box with elevator access and new, upgraded administrative offices
  • For the fans: New entryways, concourse areas, restrooms, enhanced retail space and new, more comfortable seating

BIM (Building Information Modeling) was used during preconstruction for accuracy. “BIM is crucial in a renovation,” Mullins says. Details of fire protection, electrical and mechanical systems in a virtual model allowed the team to detect and eliminate design conflicts before they happened in the field. BIM helped to provide measurable cost and time savings for the owner.

This fast-track project was completed on a stringent schedule that included the temporary relocation of coach and staff offices. In seven short months, Barton Malow Company along with the Skydome facility team completed all renovations to the dome and made it available for daily practice by the NAU Lumberjack football team and the track and field team needed as well as the Arizona Cardinals spring training camp in Flagstaff. “[Barton Malow] understood the university’s need to build in flexibility while maintaining the existing structure,” notes Mullins.