Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.



The new home of Al Ain Football Club features a floating steel cantilever roof clad with polycarbonate and tension membranes. Thornton Tomasetti provided integrated structural engineering and facade engineering services for the fast-track design-build project, from the concept phase through detailed design.

A Shared BIM

The stadium was designed using BIM, which the entire project team utilized, working in parallel on one Revit model to develop the design. Multidisciplinary integrated modeling allowed for easier coordination of complex geometry and connections, faster response to owner-driven changes and accurate monitoring of quantities for price certainty. The roof’s sweeping form was modeled in Grasshopper, a generative modeling tool for Rhino 3D, and was continuously analyzed for structural stability, daylight penetration, and thermal and solar performance to ensure that the final design was the most structurally efficient option for meeting functional shading needs and architectural goals.

A Rationalized Façade

The building façade – inspired by the pattern on the bole of a palm tree – features panels supported on a steel-framed diagrid system. The project team used computational design to rationalize the panel geometry, reducing the number of different steelwork connections and increasing their adaptability so fewer panel shapes were required.

soccer, football
Read More

Related Projects

Façade Materials & Systems


Unsurpassed for transparency, tensegrity systems and cable-net façade structures can efficiently enclose long-span openings without the use of heavy, rigid trusses or frames. We use leading-edge software to design glass façades and roofs with minimal structure. Our extensive experience with form-finding for complex geometries, along with our practical knowledge of cable engineering and construction, places us at the forefront of this design trend.

Façade Materials & Systems


Composite materials – fiber reinforced plastics (FRP), glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) and polycarbonate – make for elegant, lightweight and cost-effective enclosures. These materials are well-suited for use in stadiums and long-span buildings, both in new construction and for re-roofing existing structures. Most composites adapt to nearly any complex shape and are available in an array of thicknesses and finish options, from translucent to opaque. Using our 3D form-finding and optimization tools, we can adapt commercial systems or develop customized solutions.

Façade Materials & Systems

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.

Specialized Structural Engineering Expertise

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.