Wilmington Convention Center wins Engineering Excellence Award

Wilmington Convention Center wins Engineering Excellence Award

CHARLOTTE, NC (November 11, 2011) The City of Wilmington was presented with the Engineering Excellence Award by ACEC/NC for the sustainable site design focus on the new Wilmington Convention Center. The project features a number of innovative ‘green’ design techniques intended to protect the area’s fragile maritime ecosystem. The design team’s dedication to the existing environment and to sustainable design principals has produced a modern facility that greatly exceeds local, state and federal requirements while emphasizing the natural beauty of the Cape Fear Region.

Residents of Wilmington have long dreamed of a convention center – one that would serve as a showcase of their beautiful city, host spectacular events, and bring money into their downtown economy. After many years down a long and bumpy path, the Wilmington Convention Center finally opened its doors for its first event on November 14, 2010.

The infrastructure consulting firm, WK Dickson & Co.Inc., was hired to serve as the lead civil engineering sub-consultant to the architects, LS3P ASSOCIATES LTD., for the task of developing the overall site and infrastructure plan of the project. The team had to develop this large tract in a very tight industrial space along the banks of the Cape Fear River with the lowest possible impact to the existing natural habitat. This had to be accomplished while creating a layout that was well-organized and efficient to allow the movement of hundreds of vehicles in and out of the facility. WK Dickson used an ecologically friendly approach to site development and storm water management that mitigates development impacts to the land and water.

The design team worked closely with the city, the architects, environmental agencies, and contractors to develop solutions that ensured that the essence of the site remained intact while rehabilitating it from a former industrial site. This required numerous site visits and design modifications while in the field. Often, critical design decisions were made while walking the site at various stages of planning and construction.

Due to the constraints of the site, including classification as a Brownfield site and proximity to the Cape Fear River, the design team recommended an innovative approach to storm water treatment. Sand filters were designed to meet storm water requirements and enhance the quality of water dis- charged into the Cape Fear River. The system was designed so that all storm water is captured onsite, directed to underground filtration chambers, filtered through fine sand, then discharged cleanly into the Cape Fear River.

Not only does the overall site design enhance the natural characteristics of the coastal environment but it also protects site and regional water quality by reducing sediment, nutrient, and toxic loads to water bodies, as well as reduces impacts to local terrestrial and aquatic plants and animals.

An Engineering Excellence Award is a significant industry prize that generates dozens of entries from consulting firms across the state. Entries are judged by an outside panel on the basis of overall engineering excellence in each of ten practice areas, based on the work performed by the entering firm and scored in accordance with guidelines such as original or innovative application of new or existing techniques; future value to the engineering profession; complexity of the project; and exceeding the client’s expectations.