20160

Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Courtesy Ross Catrow / Flickr (left).

  • COMPLETION DATE
    1992

Overview

Our team provided structural design for what was at the time the world’s largest covered, oval stadium, featuring a fabric-covered cable-dome structure spanning 770 by 610 feet. Designed and constructed within a 30-month period, the Georgia Dome is a multipurpose structure for sporting events, trade shows, group meetings, multimedia concerts, political conventions and other major public activities. The stadium was home to the NFL Atlanta Falcons for more than 20 years.

Maximizing a Tenstar Structure
This structure’s innovative cable-supported and Teflon-coated fabric roof was a milestone in the development of lightweight structures. The patented Tenstar Dome structure, the first of its kind to be built, adapts tensegrity geometry to the standard oval of stadium design.

In a Tenstar structure, triangulated tension cables and floating compression posts are combined with stretched fabric membranes in hyperbolic paraboloid configurations. The challenge for our engineers was to develop constructible details and to maximize their repetition for economy, despite the complex geometry.

Scale was another of the project’s challenging aspects. The nine acres of fabric sections that cover the dome were clamped to the cable structure on-site. We designed structural components – such as node weldments, steel-pipe posts, steel-strand, bridge-type cables and concrete stands – to be prefabricated, saving site set-up time and more than a million dollars.

The roof structure’s web of posts and cables is anchored above eye level to a concrete cast-in-place compression ring, 2,300 feet in circumference. The ring floats on bridge-type, pot bearings and is supported by concrete columns cantilevered 52 feet from the upper deck, which is part of the basic superstructure frame.

ENR cited the Georgia Dome in its list of the 20th century’s top projects, describing it as a turning point in the application of cable roofs, fusing design theory and new construction techniques. Despite the airy and festive atmosphere created by the tent-like roof, the impression is one of permanence and security. The translucency of the fabric roof provides interior light during the day and creates a luminous glow at night.

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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.