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For schools at all levels, athletics can serve as a foundation for a school’s identity and is a crucial component of efforts to ensure healthy lifestyles. The expanded role of sports fields brings with it a number of challenges for schools that have to address a wide array of competing needs, including field maintenance, safety, resources, and balancing demands from high school athletic programs and the broader public for access to sports fields at public schools.
Henrico County took a proactive approach with their high school fields and tracks and outlined an ambitious three-year plan to transform dated natural grass fields and tracks at seven of the County’s high schools (the remaining two high schools didn’t require the same upgrades because those schools and their campuses were completely rebuilt). Freeman, Varina, and Hermitage received new fields and tracks in 2018 followed by Henrico High School in 2019. Godwin, Glen Allen, and Deep Run officially opened their new fields and tracks in 2020.
This project truly represented a partnership between Draper Aden, Henrico County, and CHA. We provided site and civil design services, construction administration, stormwater design and controls, subsurface utility locating and mapping, and surveying.
Among the most significant challenges was solving the issue around stormwater management. The original facilities lacked the proper stormwater controls, and the new synthetic turf fields would be considered an impervious structure when calculating stormwater requirements (akin to a parking lot). To meet this higher threshold and work within the limited space available, we designed the new synthetic fields to serve as a massive bioretention basin.
By designing the field, including the subfield structure, as a basin, the team exceeded all stormwater and environmental regulatory thresholds. Furthermore, this strategy ensures that the field drains quickly. For example, the new turf fields in Henrico drain 12 inches of water per hour, a virtually unheard-of rate for high school fields.
Construction Materials Testing
Utility Locating and Mapping
2021 ACEC Virginia Engineering Excellence Merit Award
Henrico County, VA