Hertz Center at Tulane University in New Orleans, La. Courtesy GouldEvans Associates (left) and Shannon Sheridan Photography (right).

Tulane University, Hertz Center



Hertz Center is an award-winning practice facility for Tulane University’s men’s and women’s basketball programs and women’s volleyball team. Thornton Tomasetti provided structural engineering and connection design services for the 43,000-square-foot building, which houses two full-size indoor basketball courts, three locker rooms, a weight room, a training room, more than 20 offices and conference rooms, and a film room.

The center’s design combines a two-story open gymnasium space with a two-story office in a single facility. Large portions of the gym walls protrude from the building line to form architectural light shelves, and the north exterior wall of the office area features a full-height glazing system to allow in natural light. Poor subsurface conditions required timber piles for the foundations and a structured ground-floor slab supported by driven timber piles. Thornton Tomasetti worked closely with a local structural engineer who was responsible for the foundation engineering.

A significant feature of the facility is the film room, which extends 25 feet over the facility’s grand entrance with a back span of only 30 feet. The extension was achieved with cantilevered steel beams that slope upward to support tiered seating. The roof beams cantilever and slope to follow the floor framing, which meets AISC Design Guide 11 floor vibration criteria. Loading for a future adjacent football stadium is incorporated into the Hertz Center’s locker room area columns and foundations.

The unique elements of the building required a combination of lateral systems—steel braced frames, steel moment frames, and CMU shear walls. Thornton Tomasetti designed 100% of the structural connections including all braced frame and moment frame connections, the film room cantilever beam moment connections, and the exterior gymnasium light shelf tube structure. Completing the design of all the connections reduced the preconstruction schedule, making possible early submittals of steel shop drawings.

Open communication among team members, and the use of a 3D Revit model, facilitated completion of the structure almost one month earlier than the projected steel superstructure date.

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With hundreds of sports projects in our portfolio, we have the experience and expertise to tackle any project, anywhere in the world. Baseball, football, soccer, basketball, hockey, softball, cricket and tennis, along with track and field, aquatics and equestrian sports facilities – we’ve done them. And we’ve collaborated with the world’s premier architects and design teams, building strong relationships to deliver great projects.

Structure plays a more visible role in sports facilities than in almost any other building type. The distinctive visual identity of a stadium or arena is often expressed through the exposed structure: the soaring, seemingly weightless shape of a canopy or the different configurations of a retractable roof or movable exterior wall. The structural system must also support a first-class patron experience and deliver maximum efficiency and economy. Our structural engineers seek out creative structural design solutions that offer an optimal balance for the seemingly incompatible goals of economics, aesthetics and function.