La Plata Stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina. © Jorge Perez.
Weidlinger Associates, which merged with Thornton Tomasetti in September 2015, designed La Plata Stadium with architect Roberto Ferreira and Associates in the late 1990s. But in 2001, Argentina’s flagging economy led to a break in construction, and the project was only partially completed. The 53,000-seat stadium opened in 2003, with just a seating bowl and playing field, and lacking its signature domed roof. In 2009, when the site was selected to host the opening game of the 2011 Copa América, construction resumed.
We designed the structure based on a prize-winning configuration formed by two large, overlapping circles, symbolizing the two football teams that were its intended residents. Its distinctive domed roof, emerging from atop the intersecting circles and culminating in twin peaks, inspired the structure’s nickname, Estadio Único (Unique Stadium). In addition to designing the stadium and its roof, we provided complete structural engineering services, including shop-drawing review, through final construction.
A Series of Firsts
La Plata Stadium is the first fabric-covered stadium in South America and the first to be clad in UltraLUX, a PTFE-fiberglass composite with 25 percent translucency, allowing penetration of enough sunlight to nourish a natural-grass playing field. The dome’s patented “Twinstar” design is the first-ever adaptation of the Tenstar Dome tensegrity concept to a twin-peak contour, forming a figure-eight-shaped central opening by using tension to resist global distortion. An arch resists outward thrust across the structure’s pinched-waist centerline. Unlike some other tensile roof systems, La Plata’s does not rely on its fabric cover to provide stability.
Innovative Erection Procedure
The dome’s unconventional shape inspired the development of a new, complex construction method. To avoid damaging the existing structure, temporary towers were constructed, which enabled the roof rings to be lifted before being expanded to their full circumference. The arch was installed with its center higher than its intended final position and then pulled down into place.
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