Little Caesars Arena meets aesthetic, sustainability, security goals with Tubelite systems finished by Linetec

MI-LCArena_RedArchie-Tubelite_811webWausau, Wisconsin (July 2018) – Owned by Ilitch Holdings, Inc., the $862.9 million Little Caesars Arena complex blends historic and modern aesthetics with massively scaled, fan-friendly interiors and modestly scaled, pedestrian-friendly exteriors. Contributing to this exterior, Linetec provided a variety of finishes for Tubelite’s curtainwall, storefront and entrance systems to support the project’s aesthetic, sustainability and security goals for completion on time and within budget.

Attractive and Approachable

 Little Caesars Arena’s “deconstructed” design by HOK features numerous buildings composing the sports and entertainment destination, and anchoring a 50-block area branded as The District Detroit.

MI-LCArena_RedArchie-Tubelite_824-web“One of the main design goals was to make the arena fit into the fabric of downtown and the surrounding neighborhood, rather than being this behemoth arena that dominates the area by its immense height and scale. The arena fits on what was four square city blocks,” explained Senior Project Architect Paul Leskovac, senior associate of HOK’s global Sports + Recreation + Entertainment practice. “One way we achieved it is that the arena floor is actually 30 feet below street level. If there was no signage, one might think it was a cool urban infill project – which it is!”

This approachable sizing is complemented by a 61,000-square-foot covered concourse and three connected, mid-rise buildings (A, B and C). Their upper floors are office spaces, while the street levels offer restaurant and retail services. Detached from the arena and concourse, the parking garage also has a covered walkway bridge to the arena.

Conveying a sense of both contemporary and permanent placement, various configurations of brick, glass, metal and finish colors comprise these buildings’ façades. Linetec applied 70 percent PVDF resin-based architectural coatings to Tubelite’s systems using Valspar’s Fluropon® in Medium Gray and Black, PPG’s Duranar® in Traffic Gray, and Akzo Nobel’s Trinar® in a custom Detroit Red Wings color. Class I Clear anodize also was used on the exterior curtainwall and doors, and Class II Clear anodize was selected as the interior finish for 11,500 square feet of Tubelite E14000 Storefront systems.

LCArena-web“The colors helped make the façades appear like different buildings on a downtown street,” said Leskovac. “Tubelite’s entrances, storefront and curtainwall are used on all façades of the arena. This includes the four main entry entrance systems and curtainwall, as well as curtainwall punched openings in the façade of the arena and Buildings A, B and C.”

Madison Heights Glass installed Tubelite’s systems on the main arena building’s interior and exterior, on Building C’s team store and Sports & Social Detroit, as well as Building A/B’s Mike’s Pizza. Universal Glass & Metals served as the glazing contractor on the parking garage, pedestrian bridge and three connected buildings.

Sustainability and Security

MI-LCArena_RedArchie-Tubelite_833webjpgAll materials and products on the arena were specified to help achieve LEED® standards of the U.S. Green Building Council. Among the benefits recognized by LEED, Tubelite’s systems can contribute to daylighting and views, optimized energy performance, thermal comfort, recyclable materials, and low-emitting (low-e) materials. The large majority of Tubelite’s systems installed on Little Caesars Arena complex rely on 1-inch, insulated Solarban® 60 low-e glass.

The durable finishes also reduced the need for maintenance costs and maximize long lifecycles. Under Linetec’s stringent factory-controlled processes, the finishes meet the American Architectural Manufacturers Association’s AAMA 2605 and AAMA 611 industry standards. As an environmentally responsible finisher, Linetec applies these high-performance painted coatings, and safely captures and destroys the VOCs present in liquid solvent-based paints before the finished products’ arrival on the building site. Anodize finishes do not contain VOCs and process byproducts are recyclable.

LCArena-entrance-webFurther contributing to sustainability, the aluminum curtainwall, storefront and entrance systems also are 100 percent recyclable. Tubelite’s products also are tested per the AAMA standards for air, water, structural and condensation resistance. In addition, they are tested and modeled for thermal transmittance per the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) procedures.

In addition to sustainability, Tubelite’s curtainwall systems also support the project’s security goals. At the first floor elevation, 1.25-inch, insulated, Solarban 60 low-e with impact-resistant glass was chosen for enhanced security. Other specifics are being kept confidential.

In Nov. 2017, Little Caesars Arena received SAFETY Act Certification, the highest level of protection awarded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The facility became the first combined National Hockey League, National Basketball Association and entertainment venue, and the only arena in the country, to earn the certification. It also has earned the Sport Event Security Aware (SESA) designation from the National Center for Spector Sports Safety and Security (NCS4).

Collaborative Construction

Demonstrating its dependability and partnership with the collaborative construction team, Tubelite’s and Linetec’s processes ensure orders are delivered undamaged, complete and on time. This also supported construction of Little Caesars Arena in its overall on-time and on-budget project completion.

The project broke ground in Sept. 2014. Construction began in April 2015 as managed by the project’s construction manager Barton Malow-Hunt-White, a joint venture between Barton Malow Company and Hunt Construction Group, in association with White Construction. A combination of traditional, design-assist and design-build delivery methods was used throughout the project schedule.

At the Sept. 2017 ribbon-cutting opening event, Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, Inc., praised the project and those who built it: “Today, I am so proud to say that our vision of a Michigan-made, Detroit-built Little Caesars Arena came to life even more powerfully than we had imagined, bringing opportunity into local businesses, local workers, people in need of new careers. …We put our heart and soul into something truly spectacular for the people of this city, state and region.”

Adding his compliments, Leskovac remarked, “They were both a part of an amazing construction team that participated in building a one-of-a-kind arena that Detroit, Michigan and the entire region can be proud of for a very long time.”


Successful Start

The construction of Little Caesars Arena positioned Detroit as the only city in America that houses all four of its professional sports teams in an urban core — all within walking distance. Home to the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Pistons and Detroit Lions, The District Detroit represents the greatest density of professional sports teams in one downtown core in the country.

As of May 2018, Little Caesars Arena has been the home for more than 150 ticketed events for 2.3 million fans, including a combined 82 Red Wings and Pistons regular season home games, more than 50 concerts and shows, and 15 additional sporting events. The multi-purpose facility also has hosted more than 100 private events, and is on track to be one of the busiest arenas in the world during its first full year of operation.

MI-LCArena_RedArchie-Tubelite_821webAlso in May 2018, Little Caesars Arena earned the Sports Facility of the Year Award by Sports Business, based on excellence, growth, creativity, innovation, sound planning, implementation and outcomes. Accepting the recent award, Christopher Ilitch said, “Our vision for what Little Caesars Arena could offer to fans, players, artists and community members drove us to create something very special and highly innovative. Every aspect of Little Caesars Arena was designed to enhance the guest experience, and we appreciate that those efforts continue to be recognized.”

Little Caesars Arena is one of more than a dozen developments launched by the Ilitch organization in The District Detroit since 2015. More than $1.4 billion in development is underway or planned, setting the stage for additional retail, office and residential projects. Development in The District Detroit already has created more than 20,000 construction and construction-related jobs and more than 3,000 permanent jobs after the opening of Little Caesars Arena, two-thirds of which were filled by Detroiters. These future projects are expected to continue growing the city’s economy and create new opportunities for Detroit and for Michigan.


Little Caesars Arena; 2645 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, Michigan

  • Owner: Detroit Downtown Development Authority
  • Architect: HOK; Kansas City, Missouri;
  • General contractor: Barton Malow-Hunt-White; Detroit;
  • Glazing contractor – arena: Madison Heights Glass; Ferndale, Michigan;
  • Glazing contractor – connecting buildings, parking deck: Universal Glass & Metals, Inc., part of the Brinker Group MBE; Detroit;
  • Glazing systems – curtainwall, glass supplier: Vitro Architectural Glass, Solarban® 60; Cheswick, Pennsylvania;
  • Glazing systems – curtainwall, storefront doors and frames manufacturer: Tubelite Inc.; Walker, Michigan;
  • Glazing systems – aluminum finisher: Linetec; Wausau, Wisconsin;
  • Photos by: Red Archie, courtesy of Tubelite Inc.

Located in Wisconsin, Linetec serves customers across the country, finishing such products as aluminum windows, wall systems, doors, hardware and other architectural metal components, as well as automotive, marine and manufactured consumer goods. The company is a subsidiary of Apogee Enterprises, Inc. (NASDAQ: APOG).

Is there a real copper finish that holds its luster without high maintenance?


Nash Women’s Center

The classic beauty of copper brings a rich distinction to architectural building projects – whether creating a dramatic new design, or conveying a historic depth and heritage. Today, you can achieve the look of real copper and lasting luster, without such shortcomings as salt run-off stains, galvanic corrosion, patina and intensive maintenance.

Nash_1617-lLinetec’s exclusive copper color anodize expands the typically limited color choices of anodize, while delivering the highest performance available. This proprietary, consistent, repeatable and warrantied finish is accomplished through a three-step electrolytic coloring method, rather than the standard two-step process. Material is anodized and then introduced into two separate coloring tanks where elemental metals are placed into the pores of the anodic coating. The first color tank contains tin, and the second color tank contains copper. Isolating the actual copper in the coating results in a striking visual effect that will remain stable to provide many years of low-maintenance service.

Nash_1522-lMany factors can affect the color and/or shade, in the copper anodize process, and should be taken into consideration when considering copper anodize. Four different lots of raw aluminum were used to create the extreme color range of copper anodize on Dri-Design’s wall panel system for Nash Women’s Center in Rock Mount, North Carolina.

Linetec’s copper anodize finish:

  • Appears as a bright copper color, with no patina over time
  • Does not require a clear coat or ongoing treatment to maintain color stability
  • Produces no harmful or dangerous by-products and is non-hazardous
  • Meets AAMA 611 Class I Specification
  • Is available for extrusion, stretch-formed and flat sheet aluminum
  • May be finished before or after assembly
  • Weighs less than half that of real copper, for easier transportation and installation
  • Can be designed adjacent to other aluminum materials, without galvanic corrosion risk
  • Will not leave copper run-off stains on a building’s exterior
  • Protects and maintains the structural integrity of the the aluminum
  • Retains exceptional hardness and lasting durability
  • Warrantied for five years, the same as our other Class I anodize finishing

Nash_1643-lAnodized aluminum resists the ravages of time, temperature, corrosion, humidity and warping, for a long product life cycle. Your copper anodize aluminum also may be specified with recycled content and is 100 percent recyclable.

Watch our “Linetec Anodizing – How Do They Do That?” video where Linetec’s vice president of operations, Andy Joswiak, explains the process, performance and durability of our eco-friendly anodize finishing.

To request color chip samples of Linetec’s copper anodize finishes or for personalized assistance in selecting a finish for your project, please contact us.


About Nash Women’s Center

Linetec finished 6,214 square feet of an aluminum wall panel system by Dri-Design in copper anodize for the Nash Women’s Center in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. The new, two-story, $25 million, 47,048-square-foot facility provides obstetrical and women’s services to the community. At the grand opening in May 2016, the Rocky Mount Telegram quoted Dr. Bill Roper, CEO of Nash UNC Health Care, “This is a beautiful facility that’s going to serve a lot of people.”


Located in North Charleston, South Carolina, Trident Technical College’s Nursing and Science Building features 24,400 square feet of an aluminum wall panel system by Dri-Design as finished by Linetec in copper anodize. This distinctive façade clads the 119,000-square-foot building. Designed by LS3P for durability and sustainability, the project earned LEED® Gold certification through the U.S. Green Building Council.

Wisconsin Moves Up 4 Spots on CNBC’s Top States for Business

According to WMC Morning Digest, the Badger State continues to improve its business climate, and it is showing. CNBC’s latest rankings saw Wisconsin move from 21st overall in 2017 to 17th this year. The state saw its largest gains on topics like the economy (28th to 19th) and workforce (28th to 22nd). Wisconsin also improved on subjects like infrastructure, business friendliness and education. See the full breakdown here

US states


Tackling a transportation center or high-traffic, urban project? Consider corrosion-resistant finishes

FL-Orlanda-ITF-stretchforming (2)-courtesy of Acurlite

Orlando International Airport’s South Intermodal Terminal Facility.  Photos courtesy of Acurlite

Transportation facilities, transit oriented developments and other high-traffic city centers provide the connecting points and places that compose our urban landscapes and skylines. They also can present significant challenges in protecting exterior-facing architectural aluminum products. Without proper precautions and finishes, corrosion to finished aluminum components ultimately can damage the structural integrity of the building envelope and can lead to systemic failure.


Windows, storefronts, entrances and curtainwalls, sun shades, canopies, skylights, column covers, rain screens and exterior panels all commonly are manufactured from aluminum and integrally connect to a building’s façade. In almost any city, these architectural aluminum products are continually exposed to not only weathering, but to pollution and chemicals, as well as bumps and scuffs of pedestrians. While salt spray performance considerations usually are reserved for coastal conditions, it’s important to remember that salt mixture often is used to de-ice roads making it an equal concern in colder climates.

As a prominent part of the building’s exterior, the finished aluminum adds color and design to the project; this coating also protects the building from unsympathetic surroundings. The American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) continues to set the highest standard for architectural finishes, especially in highly corrosive environments. When selecting a coating that will be required to withstand such conditions, select either the highest-performing organic paint coating that meets the AAMA 2605 specification, or a Class I anodize that meets AAMA 611.

Orlando-_-ITF-webHigh-Performance Painted Coatings

High-performance, 70 percent polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) resin-based coatings give architects, specifiers and building owners the capability to select nearly any conceivable color or combination of colors, while shielding the building against weathering, pollution and aging.

PVDF is known for its exceptional chemical stability and excellent resistance to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. It is used in architectural applications as a coating on aluminum where it provides exceptional resistance to environmental exposure.

Cedar Avenue Transit Station-2

Minnesota’s Cedar Grove Transit Center Photos courtesy of Protean Construction & Mark Long

The carbon-fluorine bond, used in the 70 percent PVDF, including Kynar® 500 resin-based architectural coatings, is one of the strongest bonds known. These paint coatings can withstand enduring and intense UV radiation. Such attributes support long-term color- and gloss-retention, and chalk-resistance.


These highest-performing 70 percent PVDF coatings meet the most stringent, exterior, architectural specification AAMA 2605, “Voluntary Specification for High Performance Organic Coatings on Architectural Extrusions and Panels.” This specification requires paint coatings to meet rigorous testing performance standards including more than 4,000 hours of salt spray, and heat- and humidity-resistance.

Protean - Cedar Grove TransitCorrosion-Resistant Requirements

Section 8.8 of AAMA 2605 refers to the corrosion resistance requirements of all coatings that must pass these stringent guidelines:

  • Humidity –The sample is exposed in a controlled heat and humidity cabinet for more than 4,000 hours at 100 degrees Fahrenheit and 100 percent relative humidity. No formation of blisters to extent greater than “few” blisters, as defined by ASTM D714.
  • Cyclic corrosion testing (previous referred to as salt spray resistance) – Score the film sufficiently deep to expose the base metal. Expose the sample for 2,000 hours according to ASTM G85, Annex A5, dilute electrolyte cyclic fog/dry test. The sample must score a minimum rating of 7 on scribe or cut edges and a minimum blister rating of 8 within the test specimen field, as defined in ASTM1654.
  • South Florida exposure – The coating shall maintain its film integrity, color retention, chalk resistance, gloss retention and erosion resistance properties for a minimum of 10 years on the south Florida on-fence testing site.
  • Color retention – Maximum of 5ΔE Units (Hunter) of color change after the minimum 10-year exposure test. A ΔE unit is the variance or color difference measured on a vector scale from a specific point in the color space.
  • Cedar Avenue Transit Station-1 399X440 Duranar MICAChalk resistance – Chalking shall be no more than that represented by a No. 8 rating for colors and No. 6 for whites after 10 years of test fence exposure. Per ASTM D4214, chalking is measured on a numerical scale with higher numbers representing better chalk resistance.
  • Gloss retention – Gloss retention shall be a minimum of 50 percent after the 10-year exposure testing, as described by ASTM D 523.
  • Resistance to erosion – Less than 10 percent film loss after the 10-year exposure testing
  • AAMA notes that high humidity environments such as, but not limited to, seacoast or industrial environments, performance of corrosion resistance may be diminished.


Metro Transit shelter

Metro Transit’s New BRT Shelters Photos courtesy of Duo-Gard

High-Performance Anodize Finishes


Class I anodize finishes that meet or exceed all requirements of AAMA 611 “Voluntary Specification for Anodized Architectural Aluminum” also resist the ravages of time, temperature, corrosion, humidity and warping. Anodized aluminum withstands extreme temperature changes and weather conditions, constant exposure to vehicle exhaust, and daily use by passengers. Over-sprayed salt de-icing can be managed with a simple rinsing as needed. With basic cleaning and maintenance, architectural aluminum products enjoy a long life cycle.

Metro shelte3The anodizing process, because it is an integral part of the substrate, produces an oxide film that is uniform, hard and protects the rest of the aluminum substrate from deterioration – providing excellent wear and abrasion resistance. The coating produced is extremely durable, and the hardness of the surface is comparable to a sapphire—the second hardest substance on earth. This characteristic makes anodize an ideal choice for use in high-traffic areas where resistance properties are important.


New York’s The Forge.   Photos by Arch Photo, Inc., Eduard Hueber

In the most challenging applications, anodize aluminum will perform as specified and will not reduce the service life of the aluminum, but may affect the natural beauty of the surface finish. Avoid any conditions that quickly can corrode an anodize finish such as mortar, cement and other alkaline materials.

To meet AAMA 611 requirements, Class I anodize must have a dry film minimum thickness of 0.7 mils to pass these stringent guidelines:

  • Abrasion Resistance (Michael Clarke Test) – A go/no-go abrasion test using abrasive papers coated with silicon carbide, garnet and glass, respectively. This is used to discriminate between films of the correct hardness and those that may give poor service because they are too soft. The specification grade of abrasive paper is Abrasive Type: Glass, Grade: “Flour,” Mohs’ Hardness Scale Number: 4.5-5.5.
  • Corrosion Resistance testing (previous referred to as salt spray resistance) –Expose the sample for 3,000 hours according to ASTM B117 using 5 percent salt solution. Test samples shall show no more than a total of 15 isolated spots or pits none larger than 1 mm in diameter, in a total of 381 cm of test area grouped from five or more test pieces.
  • South Florida exposure – The coating shall maintain its color retention, gloss retention and erosion resistance properties for a minimum of 10 years on the south Florida on-fence testing site.
  • Color retention – Maximum of 5ΔE Units (Hunter) of color change after the minimum 10-year exposure test.
  • Gloss retention – Gloss uniformity shall be within established gloss range.

 Durability and Sustainability

TForge_018-webAnodized aluminum is an inert, non-combustible material that is 100 percent recyclable and poses no health risks. At the beginning of the new millennium, Linetec and other environmentally responsible finishers, changed from the traditional caustic etching process to a more eco-friendly etch system allowing customers to use secondary (recycled) billet in the anodize process.

Small surface defects, such as those common in recycled material, are hidden by the eco-friendly anodize finish’s “frosty” matte appearance. Architects prefer the aesthetic of this matte finish. The resulting surface also reduces glare in bright sunlight. Gloss level reading is typically reduced from 15 to 25 with conventional anodize, down to a gloss level of 3 to 12 for eco-friendly color anodize.

The eco-friendly anodize process reduces landfill waste used with conventional etch processes by 75-80 percent. Landfill waste directly relates to the production of greenhouse gas. It also has the viscosity of water and will not collect in the small recesses of aluminum extrusions or narrow aluminum tubes, which enhances the durability and lifecycle of the finished architectural aluminum product.

cedar-ave-transit-berg-170607-8198-o.jpgFor painted architectural aluminum products, Linetec and the leading paint manufacturers recommend the use of a PVDF-based paint system on aluminum material for all corrosive environments. Offering the longest lifecycle, a 70 percent PVDF resin-based coating system, pretreated with chrome phosphate, along with an inhibitive chrome-rich primer should be used. This coating type meets or exceeds all the requirements of AAMA 2605.

Beyond ensuring the highest quality application, Linetec also is recognized as an industry-leading environmentally responsible finisher. It also captures the liquid paints’ volatile organic compounds (VOCs) content using a 100 percent air capture system and safely destroys the VOCs with a regenerative thermal oxidizer. Linetec then re-uses its heat energy byproduct to improve process energy efficiency. This process of re-use is completed before the material exits the paint line.

LinetecBrushedStainlessAnodize-web3Specification and Selection

To ensure the finish specified on your project’s architectural aluminum products contribute to its long life, durability and sustainability, download a free PDF of “Section 05 0513 Shop Applied Coatings for Metal 3-part Guide Specification.”

For personalized assistance in selecting the finish for your next transportation or high-traffic project, please contact us and we’ll be happy to assist you.


Linetec People to Know: Brian Stratton

Q: Tell me about your job

Wisconsin Safety Council 2018

Linetec wins Wisconsin Corporate Safety Award – April 2018

A: I manage Linetec’s safety program. Sending our associates home safely at the end of their shifts and keeping the company in compliance is the goal. To accomplish this I am extensively involved in the development of safety programs, equipment and process modifications, incident trending and prevention, incident reporting and investigation, safety awareness, safety training, financial investment, risk assessment, audits and attainment of safety objectives.

Q: What did you do prior to Linetec?

A: Working in a manufacturing environment has comprised my entire professional career. I have held the positions of production supervisor, plant manager and safety manager. I find it interesting that each company I have worked for was involved with windows to a certain degree, including window treatments, wood and vinyl window fabrication, and architectural finishing.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?

A: Having worked at Linetec for nearly 16 years, I no longer consider coming here each day to be a job. Keeping our associates safe has become more of a mission. Linetec maintains a safety culture that is truly one of the best I have ever seen. Being part of it is what I find most rewarding. We have a good thing here!

Q: What poses the biggest challenges for you?

A: Looking into that crystal ball. Trying to figure out and prevent that next significant incident or injury. Fortunately, as of late, our associates have made that part of my world much easier. The best safety device in the world is a safe worker and we have a lot of them.

Q: Are there any safety issues or recurring trends that you are seeing more of lately?

A: Fortunately, Linetec safety trending as of late has been very positive. After averaging an incident rate of 2.6 for five years, rates have dropped to 0.86 in 2017 and we’re currently at 0.43 so far through 2018. If you look at our current incident graphing, you will see we need to concentrate on hand, arm and wrist injuries. Some back strains in there as well.

BrianS (1)Q: What is something you are looking forward to?

A: I really love to hunt and fish. To me there is nothing more peaceful than an evening in the bow stand or an early morning out on a lake. I try to go on a hunting or fishing trip each year. Those are the things I look forward to.

Q: What is something people don’t know about you?

A: I am a big nostalgic rock junkie. I love 70’s and 80’s bands.

Q: If Linetec gave you a surprise three day paid break to rest and recuperate, what would you do with those three days?

A: I would go up to the family cabin in Tomahawk and chill.

BrianS (2)Q: What always cheers you up when you think about it?

A: Grandchildren are now a part of my life. I find it amazing how just looking at a picture of them can brighten up any day. A co-worker once scolded me for having the pictures of those kids behind me on my file cabinet. She said, “Set those pictures on the window sill right in front of your nose.” Those were great words of advice!