Thornton Tomasetti employees above the field at NRG Stadium in Houston, observing the condition of the fabric roof near mid-span.
In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Ike, 25 engineers from nine of Thornton Tomasetti’s offices converged on Houston, Texas to provide emergency response services, undertaking a damage assessment of more than a dozen structures, including the state’s largest sports / entertainment facility, specifically focusing on the specific mode of failure for the retractable fabric roof structure.
Professionals from Thornton Tomasetti’s structure, performance and skin practices worked together to assess damage for the NRG Park Complex, a 36-acre, 4.2-million-square-foot facility comprised of NRG Stadium, the Texas Astrodome, NRG Arena, NRG Conference Center and numerous ancillary structures. The damage assessment process included a review of the original structural design and connection details, the effects of hurricane force wind and rain, a materials analysis and an investigation to determine the cause and origin of the unanticipated roof failure.
To accomplish this task, Thornton Tomasetti developed an initial material testing program, determined the wind loading parameters and performed an independent analysis to determine the tensile strength of the fabric, cable stress levels and maximum / minimum deflections, including 3D modeling of the steel structure to check the interaction behavior of the steel and fabric.
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