ARCHITECTURAL: Installing Sculpted Sheet Metal

Indianapolis-based Gainbridge Fieldhouse entrusts the installation of two new sculptures to SMACNA member.

Physical assembly of the structures was challenging. The arch had 450 pieces, and the sphere had more than 350 panels. 

The Gainbridge Fieldhouse renovations in Indianapolis have been big news. After all, the arena is home to the NBA’s Indiana Pacers and the WNBA’s Indiana Fever — and hosts many other concerts and events. 

Outside of the arena, the new Bicentennial Unity Plaza, including two sculptures designed by Herman Mejia, was a highly anticipated final touch that wrapped up the $400-million, inside-and-outside renovation. The installation of those sculptures was contracted to SMACNA member Poynter Sheet Metal, headquartered in Greenwood, Indiana. 

According to Luke Bland, director of specialty metals for Poynter, the project involved the installation of two sculptures — a sphere and an arch, which were fabricated by Eventscape out of Toronto, Canada. The materials for these structures were galvanized steel and the panels were #8 mill finish stainless steel. 

The silver arch was installed over the basketball court and named “Together,” while the sphere was installed at the entrance to the plaza and named “Sphere.” The inside of “Sphere” is open for guests to walk through and features interior video screens. The sculptures represent the city’s desire to be a civil, unified and informed place.

Bland says that their team worked closely with the design and fabrication team in Toronto to ensure that the final product would fit correctly.
“We were able to work closely with Rafael Avila, the onsite supervisor for Eventscape, and he was able to communicate with the engineers in Canada to help answer questions, verify dimensions and work through any challenges.

Like a Puzzle
The physical assembly of the sculptures was no simple feat. On the arch, there were approximately 450 pieces for the cladding, and the sphere had over 350 panels. The arch spans over 120 feet, and the sphere is 30 feet in diameter and 25 feet tall.

“The challenges were the sculpture complexity and how all of the pieces fit together,” he recalls. “They were unique shapes and similar to a puzzle. All of the panels were very heavy and had to be set in place with a crane. Some of the panels arrived damaged, and our specialty shop team was able to quickly fix them and repolish the panels so that our install crew could stay on schedule.”

The assembly took place onsite. The structures came in as modules; all the panels were separate pieces.

Bland says that the company had roughly 4,500 man-hours total in this installation project. It began in April and wrapped up on August 11, 2023.
The new plaza is positioned to be the location of many future community events, and the team at Poynter says that they were honored to be involved in a project that helped to complete that space. 

“This was a very high-profile project with a lot of attention from the news media, public, and even the NBA,” Bland adds. “It was exciting to be involved with the installation of these two sculptures that will be enjoyed for many years to come; we are very proud and honored to be part of a prestigious project that will be admired for many years to come.”