Baku National Stadium in Azerbaijan. Courtesy Tekfen Construction / Thornton Tomasetti model.



The new 68,000-seat Baku National Stadium has been designed to meet the highest international standards for stadiums set by the Union of European Football Associations. Located just off of Lake Boyukshor in Baku, Azerbaijan, the 225,000-square-metre stadium, which was completed in February 2015, hosted the first ever European Games in June, 2015.

Thornton Tomasetti provided structural design services for the stadium. To meet an aggressive 18-month design and build schedule, the project team performed design and construction simultaneously. To maximise design flexibility, the structural design used piled raft foundations, a system more typical of high-rise buildings than stadiums.

An advanced modeling approach also supported the accelerated schedule. The engineering team 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 and full fabrication drawings were delivered to the contractor’s fabrication facility in Turkey.

In addition to engineering the structure, Thornton Tomasetti’s Façade Engineering practice provided design and engineering peer review of the ETFE façade and roof systems.

Baku Olympic Stadium,
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ETFE & Fabrics

The use of lightweight membrane structures can enhance design, budget and building performance – but only if their attributes are considered early in the design process. With the ability to span great distances, these systems are used in dynamic and sculptural forms and can be quickly modified to meet changing weather-related or programmatic needs by adjusting shading, thermal and aesthetic characteristics. Our façade engineering consultants are experts in the application of ETFE, fabric and tensioned membranes, from concept evaluation to integration of these lightweight systems into building skin designs.

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Computational Analysis

While the range of shapes and forms that can be designed with modern modeling tools is almost limitless, geometric discipline is still essential for budget control. When forms are still in flux, the design team can use our proprietary tools to interactively study multiple geometric options and establish optimized shapes for structural frames and building surfaces, along with related systems.

Parametric modeling applies parameters such as materials, dimensions or performance criteria to define elements or element categories within a model. Once entered, they can be altered, individually or in combination, to explore and easily incorporate design changes. These 3D models contain intelligent information and can serve as deliverables, or they can be used to generate 2D drawings. Parametric models improve documentation speed and quality, enhance visualization, quickly perform geometry-based analytical tasks and easily calculate material quantities.

Generative modeling uses scripts – instead of direct input – to generate elements, providing even greater flexibility in iterating and testing many options. It allows architects, engineers and other project stakeholders to work together to quickly evaluate any number of concepts and variations.