Western Carolina University has contracted with Woolpert for its Bob Waters Field engineering and landscape architecture project at E.J. Whitmire Stadium. The $1 million project includes the removal, demolition and replacement of the existing synthetic turf field, as well as the addition of a new synthetic turf practice area. The firm also is resurfacing the perimeter walkway and installing goal posts, fencing and concrete curbing.

Carl Armanini is a sports designer and senior landscape architect for Woolpert who specializes in the installation and design of turf athletic fields. He says Western Carolina’s No. 1 objective for the field is safety, which will be supported by elements that include padding to absorb Gmax forces and appropriate drainage.

“The most important aspect of any synthetic turf or natural grass field is drainage — without it, the structural integrity of the field is compromised and can lead to athletes skating across the surface,” says Armanini, who also is the construction administrator for the project. “Western Carolina wanted to go with a new type of woven turf. We were able to provide that and their other preferred products within budget. We’re excited to be able to provide this for the school, and to do so on an expedited schedule.”

Woolpert Project Manager Katie Thayer says the project had an accelerated timeline when it launched in January, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Although some short-term goals have been altered due to the crisis, the team is on target to have the field completed by Aug. 1.

“Fortunately, we got off to a quick start and were able to get the project advertised and bid ahead of our May graduation deadline,” Thayer says. “Challenges surfaced while working within prescribed state orders during the pandemic and coordinating the project virtually, but we’re fortunate to have an expert team in place that can pivot and react as needed.”