The opening ceremony for the inaugural European Games on Friday, June 12 will give the international sporting world its first look at the recently completed Baku National Stadium in Azerbaijan. Until now, Europe has lagged behind other continents, which have long held multi-sport competitions between countries. The first European event will serve to revitalize the sporting world in Europe and introduce a striking new stadium that will become an icon of the games.
Thornton Tomasetti designed the structure for this 68,000-seat stadium, which will host the opening and closing ceremonies and other athletic competitions. The stadium is circular in design and features curvaceous concourse spaces. It is true to the spirit of Baku, its shape inspired by a cylindrical, 12th-century Azeri monument. The architect also adopted fire and wind, two symbols of Baku, into its design.
Courtesy Heerim Architects and Planners
This stadium had an aggressive, 24-month design and build schedule. In order to ensure completion for the European Games, the project team performed design and construction in parallel. To maximize design flexibility, the structural design used piled raft foundations, a system more typical of high-rise buildings than stadiums. The engineering team also developed an automated design routine to check beam and column reinforcement against seismic code provisions, greatly speeding the design process. Precast reinforced concrete, main and secondary steel structures were all modeled using Tekla Structures 19.0.
Revit model – Ken Murphy / Thornton Tomasetti
Use of 3D building information modeling (BIM) was essential to completing a project of this size on a super fast-track schedule and with an international design team spread across four countries. The smart exchange of information was necessary in order for the project to succeed. As in-person project team meetings were practically impossible, BIM allowed for the efficient exchange of information and helped to ensure that the project was completed in a timely manner.
Courtesy Aris Theodorou / STEEL & STRUCTURAL DETAIL ENGINEERS
The contractor chose ETFE as the exterior skin for the stadium because of its lighting performance. The two-layer ETFE pillows are reinforced with steel cables, in order to withstand the strong winds in Baku. The envelope is 36,000 square meters, comprising 600 façade panels, with 28,000 square meters or 360 panels of ETFE cushions on the roof. We provided a detailed design and engineering peer review of the ETFE façade and roof systems.
Courtesy Tekfen Construction
The stadium sits on a former brownfield site, which was remediated for use, removing possible contaminants and turning it into a park that includes green field. This effort was significantly meaningful in terms of sustainability and will allow the public to enjoy the park and eco-friendly Boyukshor Lake.
Courtesy Tekfen Construction
The stadium, which was completed in February 2015, serves as a multifunctional venue, able to host athletic events as well as a wide range of non-sporting activities. In addition to the European Games, the stadium will host the quarterfinals and three of the group games for EURO 2020 football championship. With plans for current and future events, this stadium is contributing to the revitalization of the local economy and will serve as an urban landmark and multicultural complex for the people of Baku.
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