Recently I was invited to a meeting at the Sprung Corporate Campus in the village of Aldersyde, AB – just south of Calgary. Although I’m a newcomer to the area, I’d been past the sprawling military green and white canvas-looking structure several times and wondered what could possibly be inside. With Alberta being cattle country, I imagined it could be an auction house.

Was I ever wrong. It wasn’t an auction house, but it could have been. A Sprung structure can be just about anything you want it to be.

Driving into the parking lot, I still wasn’t sure. Once inside, though, I was absolutely blown away. It was an office building, in one of the most comfortable buildings I’ve ever been in: quiet, light and bright and, sorry for repeating myself, comfortable. Open plan, spacious, airy and comfortable. What I quickly learned is what you put inside a Sprung structure is completely up to you. Take a look:

Lynne Douglas, Sprung’s Regional Business Development Manager, led the guided tour. Our first stop was the in-house museum on the facility’s main floor, with displays tracking Sprung’s timeline, from producing tarps for covered wagons to the 133-year-old family-run company’s contract with NASA, and more. We went up to the 2nd-floor corporate offices, downstairs to the corporate gymnasium, workout and lounge areas. We went out to the production floor and saw work being performed on the skins. We saw the facility’s co-generation system and the greenhouse. Later we ate, back in the main building on the main floor, in Sprung’s cafeteria.

Sprung Structures: Perfect for Ice

My interest in Sprung is for indoor ice arenas – their engineered structures are a natural fit. Shawnigan Lake School in BC, Edge School in Springbank, AB and the Town of Collingwood, ON are among customers who have engaged Sprung for brick-and-mortar alternatives for their indoor ice arenas.

To get a feeling for the difference between brick and mortar and a Sprung, I spoke to Mel Milanovic, Collingwood’s Manager of Recreation Facilities. Milanovic says the big difference is the stable indoor environment the Sprung delivers, making it perfect for ice making.

“The Sprung creates a thermal seal better than the brick and mortar,” says Milanovic. “Indoor ice arenas like to have a controlled environment. With the Sprung, we have no infiltration of heat or moisture into the arena. The tighter the envelope, the better off we are, and we have a very tight envelope.”

The Sprung indoor ice arena in Collingwood, ON

Milanovic says the building has R30 insulation from one side to the other. They do have humidifiers.

“We run dehumidifiers to remove the humidity,” he says, “but when you don’t have as much humidity coming into the building, they’re not running as much as they would be with a building that lets heat and humidity in.” The Central Park Arena is 120′ wide and houses a standard, NHL-sized rink, with a spectator capacity of 400.

The municipality also turned their outdoor swimming pool into an indoor swimming pool with a Sprung structure. The aluminum substructure is rust and corrosion resistant, and the Collingwood enclosure was designed with roll-up sunshine doors that let patrons enjoy the sunshine in the summertime. Take a look:

The Centennial Aquatic Centre in Collingwood, ON uses a Sprung structure, giving it indoor/outdoor flexibility depending on the season.

All of Sprung’s existing ice arena builds feature white interior skins which make the interiors light, reflective and bright and come with the additional benefit of softening the sound of hockey. The structures, themselves, currently come in widths of 120′, 130′ and 140′.

Milanovic says the 2014 build cost $8 million, all in — about half as much as what a brick and mortar building would have cost. Aside from cost and turnaround, there’s another big benefit for choosing Sprung: there is absolutely NO maintenance needed on the building — no painting of beams and walls — and no roof to replace. For municipal arenas for community hockey and skating programs, a Sprung build makes a lot of sense.

Re-skinning a Sprung

Sprung has a 25-year warranty on their membranes, which need to be replaced every 30+ years or so and is dependant on several weather factors, including UV penetration. Douglas says their customers look at a skin change as getting “a brand new building!” That can mean an update to the exterior colours, additions of logos — again, like the interior, imagination is the only barrier.

Exactly how those skins are changed was a worry for one of Sprung’s growing demographic groups: casinos. Because casinos have a small amount of downtime, and only in the wee hours of the morning, if they do, Sprung developed a machine to slink up and down the building, replacing the old skin with new as it goes. Now Sprung structures require no down time in replacing the skin. Ingenious!

Artist's depiction of the Space Shuttle inside a Sprung Structure. Image courtesy of Sprung.

Douglas explains the original NASA contract with Sprung was for an emergency shelter for the Space Shuttle that could be immediately deployed in any of the Earth’s seven geographic regions in case of re-entry difficulties. That contract made other would-be customers take a good look at Sprung and their products’ versatility and orders began streaming in from individuals needing hangars for business jets, churches with growing congregations and the US military for needs I can’t tell you about. Sprung’s reach keeps growing, with offices around the world, and their client list keeps growing, too, including Elon Musk’s Tesla and SpaceX production lines as well as Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin.

As for weather concerns, the Sprung structures engineered to withstand extreme weather. In 2005 when Hurricane Katrina struck Buras, Louisiana, a Sprung tension fabric building was the only building left standing.

Recently, Sprung’s phones have been ringing for quickly erected hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients. Two hospitals have been deployed this week, both for North American destinations. With the erection of a Sprung building capable of 2,000 sq. feet/day, these buildings are a real alternative for both permanent and temporary structures.

As for Sprung for indoor ice arenas or other recreation facilities, I’m a huge fan. With the high cost of brick and mortar builds, Sprung offers structures that are safe, durable, energy-efficient, easily deployed, with no ongoing maintenance costs.

What goes into them is all up to you.

If you’d like to know more, please contact James Walls at 403-710-8615.