ARCHITECTURAL: Infinitely Memorable

Denver contractor Scherer Metals created a sculpture celebrating aluminum’s unlimited recycling ability for Ball Corp., an aluminum packaging supplier. It sits outside Denver’s Ball Arena. 

T.J. Pagliasotti (left), J.T. Terrill and Duane Alex look up from the infinity monument ready to be installed at Denver’s Ball Arena 

Sports fans might notice something different the next time they head to Ball Arena. 

No, it’s not a talented new player a team got in a trade nor a revamped concessions area with dozens of food and drink choices.

The latest addition to the Ball Arena experience is a 19-foot-tall metal sculpture of the infinity symbol on the arena grounds. 

Why erect a monument that looks like a cursive No. 8 outside the arena? Because Ball Arena — named after Ball Corp. — has been involved in reusing and recycling containers for more than 100 years. From mason jars and canning supplies a century ago to aluminum containers of all sizes today, Ball is working to reduce waste around the world. 

And unlike many other materials that have a limit on how many times they can be recycled — if any —  aluminum can be recycled forever.

The infinity monument, without a beginning or end, symbolizes this unique ability. 

Duane Alex wears a face mask as he assembles the monument at Sherer Metals’ sheet metal shop.

The job of creating this symbolic sculpture was awarded to Scherer Metals, an architectural sheet metal contractor that has been fabricating and installing custom metalwork in and around Denver for more than 128 years. From antique-style light fixtures to building facades, handrails and ornamental touches, there are many examples of its work throughout the state and region. 

“We have full metal capacities,” explains Mark Pagliasotti, an Estimator who has been with Scherer for 16 years. “We do anything from small brackets to high-end office buildings, tenant finishes and decorative additions — like the sculpture itself.”

Pagliasotti was Scherer’s lead on the Ball Arena sculpture project. He says the general contractor, Facilities Contracting Inc., awarded Scherer the sculpture contract in August 2023 based on a recommendation from another large company in the region. 

While the sculpture is designed to represent something that goes on forever, the deadline included with the $150,000 contract wasn’t quite that long. Scherer would only have about three months to create the sculpture along with a perimeter railing, and then get it all to the arena in time for a Nov. 15, 2023, ceremony on America Recycles Day — a.k.a. National Recycling Day. 

“It was tight,” Pagliasotti says. “I would say that’s a tight fit for anybody, really.” 

Scherer Metals employee J.T. Terrill assembles the infinity sculpture that will be installed outside Ball Arena in Denver 

As a corporation dedicated to aluminum and recycling, Ball originally wanted the sculpture to be made from aluminum. But Pagliasotti recommended against that. 

“Outside conditions are not good for aluminum,” he says. “It collects a lot of pollution and soot and stuff that’s in the air.” 

The finish Ball wanted for the sculpture would have made it difficult to keep clean. It would have also been more difficult to put together, Pagliasotti adds.

“It’s a lot harder to weld because you have to go with thicker material and a lot hotter weld,” he says. “Because if you’re grinding the welds, you want to make sure that you’ve got welds left once you grind it to a radius.” 

So Ball went with Pagliasotti’s suggestion of ⅛-inch type 316 stainless steel, which would offer the appearance and durability Ball was looking for. And like aluminum, stainless steel is 100% recyclable. 

Once those details were decided, “They gave us the run of it,” Pagliasotti says. “They showed us the rendering of what they wanted. We came up with sizes together, and we pretty much put it together from there.”

The 1,700 pounds of metal the sculpture needed was delivered by semi truck in 4-by-10 sheets. 

“Our programmer at our shop took it from there,” Pagliasotti says. “He programmed everything, laid it all out. He got a couple models of it prior to fabrication to make sure we were on the right track and then programmed it into life size.” 

The sheets were cut by water jet, which is ideal when working with temperature-sensitive materials like stainless steel. The water jet also cut down on waste, since the computer numeric controlled (CNC) cutting tip was very accurate. 

Then the sheets were assembled by Scherer sheet metal workers. They assembled the sculpture in the shop, laying it flat, then added welds where needed. 

“We had really good guys working on the project who were very excited and very diligent with it,” he says. “It was intimidating at first, but I think all the forethought on how to do it and getting our plan together made the difference.”

Additional Scherer employees who worked on the infinity monument included:

  • T.J. Pagliasotti (designer, water jet operator, fabricator, installer)
  • Duane Alex (welder, fabricator, installer)
  • J.T. Terrill (polisher, installer)
  • William Bourne (installer)
  • Frank Lynn (installer)
  • Mike James (installer)

An unveiling ceremony was held at the arena Nov. 15 to coincide with National Recycling Day. 

Ball Arena is home to the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche and the pro lacrosse team the Colorado Mammoth. 

From 1999 through 2020, the arena was known as the Pepsi Center. Since purchasing the naming rights, Ball Corp. has worked to expand recycling in the 21,000-seat facility. All plastic cups, bottles and clean paper are processed through single-stream recycling, eliminating the need to sort materials. The packaging company’s Ball aluminum cup, a sustainable plastic-alternative drink holder, is used at the arena.  

As for the sculpture, which has been featured in local news coverage and on social media, Pagliasotti says he’s proud of the work Scherer and his team did. 

“It went as smooth as it could possibly go,” he says. “We were very happy with the way it went.”

Peter Bolan, the President of Scherer Metals, says he was proud of the monument and the work of his employees on it. 

“Our employees are artists in their own profession as fabricators,” he says. “People come to us for the hard projects because they know we can (do them).”

Bolan pointed out that Scherer, like Ball, is a company dedicated to working with metal. Recycling is also important to Scherer, he adds. The company was honored to have had a role in bringing the infinity monument to Ball Arena.

“Our goal is to make peoples’ vision become a reality,” Bolan says. “Whether it’s drawn on a napkin, a piece of paper or on a set of drawings from an architect, we want to see it come to life.”