Kroc Center Shines Light On Camden

There are those rare times in life when you can make a real difference and change the lives of people. Structures Unlimited, Inc., got that chance when it was invited to be part of building the Salvation Army’s Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center of Camden, N.J.

The 120,000 square foot complex sits on 24 acres in the city’s Cramer Hill section on what was once an abandoned landfill near the Delaware River.

The $100 million project started eight years ago and SUI was there from start to finish, helping turn the old landfill into a community hub badly needed by a city ranking as one of the poorest cities in the country. The center will create an estimated 160 full-time and part-time jobs.

“We hope that this Kroc center will give (children) hope,” Major Paul Cain of the Salvation Army said. “Not only to them, but also to their families, a place where they can advance and find out what the possibilities are for their life and their future.”

SUI was responsible for engineering some of the signature features of the center, including the two 61 x 113 foot pre-engineered center ridge skylights over the competition pool and adjacent water park pool using Kalwall® translucent sandwich panels and corrosion resistant aluminum structural system.

There is a 61’ x 61’ pyramid skylight in the Town Plaza, as well as a 40’ x 40’ pyramid in the administrative area and a 30’ x 30’ pyramid in the day care center. Kalwall translucent insulated sandwich wall panels were also used in the gym and other areas.

“SUI and Kalwall were with us throughout the design and documentation process,” said Keith Peacock-RA, NCARB of Kitchen & Associates Services, Inc., the project architect. “A great organization and people,” Pierre Lebel, Indoor Pool Applications Manager for SUI, called the project complex.  Peacock said it was SUI’s ability to provide a “turnkey single source solution” that was a key factor for going with SUI. Other factors Peacock noted were SUI’s ability to span the pool rooms with maintenance free materials and finishes, and “the fantastic daylighting the Kalwall product provides.”

Peacock said like most projects of this complexity, ways were needed to reduce cost and SUI helped find solutions by partnering with Glazing Concepts of Bensalem, Pa., to reduce the installation cost and bring the translucent panel package into the budget range the project needed.

Lebel said one of the challenges was working with the steel girders that run the length of the pool rooms. “Some projects you have to take under your wing and nurture them from concept to completion,” Lebel said. “There was a large quantity of product involved and we had to commit significant engineering resources to fit our systems into their project.”

Peacock said energy efficiency was another factor. “The owner (the Salvation Army) plans on operating the Center for decades to come. They tasked K&A with designing a beautiful facility but they also needed for it to be as energy efficient as possible at the same time,” Peacock said. “The natural daylighting of the spaces provides beautiful light but it also significantly reduces heat loss and solar heat gain. In the pools and the gymnasium there are many days where there is no need to run the overhead lights, reducing energy and maintenance costs for the owner. The clear span roof areas are dramatic but the effect on the human spirit in the spaces is also fantastic.”

Value and energy efficiency are hallmarks of SUI with any project it is involved with and the Kroc Center project was no different. “SUI and Kalwall were there every step of the way on an eight-year journey,” Peacock said. “It’s the little things they remind you that you are working with professional and honest people. During installation a few panels were damaged. By the time we documented the damage and issued a field report, new panels had been fabricated and installed.

“SUI and Kalwall stand behind their product. They Deliver!”

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