Qatar National Convention Centre in Doha, Qatar. Courtesy Burak Oruc / Baytur Construction (left).

Qatar National Convention Centre



Thornton Tomasetti provided structural engineering services through design development, and tuned mass damper design for the largest convention center in the Middle East. In addition to hosting conferences and exhibitions, the center is a venue for music, art and cultural events. The LEED-certified facility operates on renewable energy sources, including photovoltaic panels, and its construction used reclaimed finish materials and locally-manufactured materials.

Structural Engineering
The LEED Gold-certified convention center is a four-story building with a 250-meter by 115-meter footprint on top of a one-story 420-meter by 175-meter podium. It accommodates 10 conference and performance venues; a 2,300-seat, multilevel theater; three additional tiered auditoriums; a 40,000-square-meter exhibition space and pre-function exhibition foyers; banquet facilities for up to 10,000 people; 57 meeting rooms; and hospitality suites and lounges.

The roof for the main auditorium is supported by two main 45-meter transfer trusses. The stage area was built of steel construction and precast hollow-core slabs, and is acoustically isolated from the rest of the building. The theatre was designed as a box-within-a-box to isolate exterior interference. The main convention center features an immense floor-to-ceiling height of 35 meters and column-free halls of 50 meters by 85 meters stacked on top of each other. The main auditorium was constructed with 14 radial frames sitting on two concentric concrete shells. Because their complex geometries made standard form casting impossible, our team recommended shotcrete, a sprayed concrete alternative that also resulted in cost savings for the client.

Tuned Mass Dampers for Vibration Control
When concerns arose that dancing could cause uncomfortable vibration in the large upper-level conference hall, our acoustic engineers were retained to analyze the floor’s structure and provide specifications for a solution. We detailed the performance requirements for vibration-control hardware and provided general arrangement drawings for tuned mass dampers (TMDs). The specifications and drawings were used by suppliers to develop a detailed design of the TMD hardware. Reducing the vibrations to a level that is imperceptible to the room’s occupants involved installation of sixteen TMDs, with a total mass of 220 tons, in the between the floor and the ceiling of the hall below. We provided on-site supervision of installation and commissioning and provided specifications, supervision and data analysis for the testing – which included full-scale tests with a large purpose-built shaker as well as sessions with 123 people performing coordinated rhythmic activity. The effectiveness of the TMDs was demonstrated very clearly and met all specification requirements.

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