Georgia Tech football student-athletes walk inside their new locker room for the first time.
Matt Winkeljohn | The Good Word
With the final touches being put on Georgia Tech’s spiffy $4.5 million football locker room renovation, Ron Rice is one of so many Tech alumni working on the project that it’s seemed at times like Yellow Jackets building a nest.
As the general manager of Hunter Douglas Architectural, which has supplied walls and a fancy hexagonal ceiling, the former Yellow Jackets kicker (1980-83) marvels over the 8,100-square-foot space under the north stands in Bobby Dodd Stadium. The newly renovated locker room was unveiled to Tech’s football team on Tuesday morning.
This will be quite a step up from where he and his Jackets used to bunker.
— GT FB Recruiting (@GTFootball) July 24, 2018
“Back then, the locker rooms were under the east stands,” he recalled. “You could probably describe the situation as desolate. You had to stoop down to get in there. I’m not sure how Georgia Tech could recruit anybody. It was pretty decrepit.”
Tech’s locker room moved to the ground floor of the Arthur B. Edge Intercollegiate Athletics Center in 1982 when that facility opened on the northeast corner of what was then known as Grant Field.
“When we busted out and moved under the Edge Center, it was a big day,” said Rice, who still holds the school record for kicking points scored in a game with 17 against The Citadel in `82, and is tied with E.O. Wealler and David Bell for longest field goals made (55 yards) and attempted (64).
That was an upgrade, but nothing like these new digs. This place has a lot of kickers.
There is a hydrotherapy area with hot and cold tubs, an upgraded steam room, increased shower and restroom capacity, a hydration station, multiple audio-visual systems, power sources in every locker, backlit and branded walls and more.
It looks nothing like what Mark Hutto remembers from his time at Tech from 1987-’90. As the owner of Certified Finishes, which has done flooring and tile work, the former reserve guard has seen plenty of change.
If he were able to time-travel from his playing days forward to the locker room that is about to open, “I would’ve probably thought I was in an NFL locker room in the way distant future,” he said. “What they’ve done is really amazing . . .
“We went from 2-9 [in `87] to undefeated and the national championship [in `90] . . . I just remember it being all oak, oak, oak, oak. The flooring was recycled carpet tile, recycled rubber . . . The renderings [of the new locker room] don’t do it justice.”
New locker room = 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
— Georgia Tech Football (@GeorgiaTechFB) July 24, 2018
Twenty-one years after moving under the Edge Center, Tech’s locker room moved again in 2003 to the current spot under the newly finished North stands.
Todd Stansbury didn’t take long to fast-track this project. A feasibility study was done prior to his hiring as athletics director in Sept. 2016, and he soon green-lit a search for funding. This is the first project paid for with funds raised through the $125 million Athletics Initiative 2020, which earmarks $88 million to facilities enhancements.
“For Todd, this is really one of the projects that he wanted to get started on immediately,” said associate athletics director for facilities, operations and events Derek Grice. “He knew it would make a tremendous impact for our football program and student-athletes.”
Soon after the Tech committee advertised requests for proposals, Tech-connected contractors and vendors practically swarmed to The Flats.
Heery International, the architects who designed the locker room, was co-founded in 1952 by Tech graduate George T. Heery (architecture, `51). Glenn Jardine (mechanical engineering, ’77) is the current executive managing director.
Grice counts at least five Tech graduates on the project for Heery, including project manager Marc Clear (architecture `03/’06) and project architect Dane Hawthorne (architecture, master’s `10).
Hutto’s been a season-ticket holder for some 20 years, tailgating on the Peters Parking Deck before games. When word of this project got out, “I made a concerted effort to get involved, to bring some value to the project.”
Grice took plenty of calls.
“There was a moment early in the process [when] I was on the phone with probably eight or nine people, and I realized how passionate everybody was about the project,” he said. “I realized that I was the only one on the phone call that wasn’t a graduate of Georgia Tech, but I was the one who worked for Georgia Tech.
“The passion for the project was just incredible. The people who are working on this have something invested in it.”
Some come from afar.
The general contractor, J.E. Dunn Construction, is based in Kansas City, yet project manager Bryan Steed — a former baseball player at the University of North Carolina – is plenty Tech-connected out of the company’s Atlanta office.
His father, Dick Steed, played baseball for the Jackets from 1970-73, and soon after Bryan graduated with a degree in economics from UNC in 2007, he enrolled in Tech’s graduate program in building construction and facility management because, “I didn’t want to sit at a desk and look at numbers.
“I was really into buildings and the way my mind works is more geared toward something tangible.”
Grice counts at least five Tech graduates working the project on behalf of Dunn, including pre-construction estimator Jennifer Brown and marketing manager Vicki Sarris.
“It’s a big deal for me for sure . . . and there’s even more than that. My dad went to school here, played baseball, graduated in 1973,” said Steed, who received his graduate degree from the Institute in `09. “Ever since I can remember we’ve been coming to Tech football and baseball games. I grew up a Tech fan.
“Going to Tech for the master’s program, you kind of have some additional pride. You can see this with our partners who are associated with Georgia Tech, that there is some additional sense of urgency or commitment. It’s almost personal.”
There may be enough Tech-connected people on the renovation to hold a reunion.
Grice knows of at least four alums on the scene with Hunter Douglas, and Lighting Associates is being represented by Doug Bogue, who lettered in football in 1980. Tech graduate Bryan Nix is with Ragan Enterprises (mechanical and plumbing), Phil Kang and John MacFarland are with Working Buildings, and Philip Panos with Capital Signs. Helping from the campus side were senior project manager Lindsey Cottingham and IT infrastructure engineer lead Robert Toledano.
They’re all Georgia Tech graduates.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Rice, who earned a management science degree in `85. “It was a very easy call on our end when we got word of the development at Tech. I appreciate this. I played with Todd . . . Todd’s got a purpose and we love him being there. He’s an alum, and a football player.”
Tech connections extend beyond the project site, some going back in time.
In Stansbury’s first job at Tech, he was Hutto’s academic advisor. In Hutto’s first job after college, he worked for 15 years with Shaw Industries, the north Georgia flooring titan whose CEO, Vance Bell, is a Tech graduate. Bell earned a football scholarship to the school in the early `70s, only to suffer a career-ending injury as a freshman.
“The carpet we’re using from Shaw, that’s a joint effort between me and the guy who’s got a lot of passion for the school, and it goes a lot further than the carpet,” Hutto said. “It’s amazing how all the dots started connecting . . .
“We’ve done a ton of tile work with a smorgasbord of vendors and a really neat thing when you get to the pool that we fabricated. On the tile side . . . there are sidewalk Georgia Tech fans who got real excited and allowed me to get some discount prices. They’re out there. You’ve just got to find them.”
That’s been fairly easy, as it turns out, for there are Yellow Jackets everywhere.
GEORGIA TECH ALUMNI INVOLVED IN FOOTBALL LOCKER ROOM DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION
Architects and Engineers
Pater Barron (CBRE Heery – Mechanical Engineer)
Emily Burton (CBRE Heery – Business Development)
Marc Clear (CBRE Heery – Project Manager)
Josh Dover (CBRE Heery – Structural Engineer)
Dane Hawethorne (CBRE Heery – Project Architect)
Carl Nylander (Counsilman Hunsaker – Aquatic Engineer)
Owen Sullivan (CBRE Heery – Mechanical Engineer)
Mike Trinker (CBRE Heery – Electrical Engineer)
Mike Bartlett (JE Dunn – Executive V.P., Atlanta Office Leader)
Jennifer Brown (JE Dunn – Pre-Construction Estimator)
Vicki Sarris (JE Dunn – Marketing Manager)
Bryan Steed (JE Dunn – Project Manager)
Fred Tull (JE Dunn – Pre-Construction Manager)
Doug Bogue (Lighting Associates)
Athelia Crosmun (Hunter Douglas – Pricing and Specification Administrator)
Michael Howard (Hunter Douglas – Pre-Construction Design and Budget Specialist)
Mark Hutto (Certified Finishes)
Phil Kang (Working Buildings)
Chris Le (Hunter Douglas – Architectural Services Manager)
John MacFarland (Working Buildings)
Bryan Nix (Ragan Enterprises)
Philip Panos (Capital Signs)
Ron Rice (Hunter Douglas – General Manager)
Lindsey Cottingham (Georgia Tech Design and Construction – Senior Project Manager)
Robert Toledano (Georgia Tech Office of Information Technology – IT Infrastructure Engineer Lead)