Rupp Arena Expansion and Renovation in Lexington, Kentucky. Courtesy NBBJ.

Rupp Arena Expansion and Renovation



Thornton Tomasetti provided structural engineering, through schematic design, for a planned major renovation to the 38-year-old home of the Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball team. The project promised to improve the overall fan experience with numerous upgrades to hospitality, media and technology.

The planned stadium improvements included expanded concourses; a hospitality level with new premium seating; a center-hanging scoreboard; outdoor video screens; an upper bowl; and an all-glass, geometrically complex building skin. Fans would enjoy improved arena accessibility via a catwalk connecting the venue to the university, chair-back seating, high-definition video screens and Wi-Fi connectivity.

The project presented a number of structural challenges. The building would be expanded on all sides with a two- to three-story-deep structure that cantilevers up to 60 feet beyond a new perimeter column line. Floor decks for an increased program would be suspended from regularly placed cantilever frames at the roof level with deep perimeter trusses spanning between support points. To accommodate a new bowl configuration, a number of existing roof columns were to be removed and new trusses were to be added to support the existing roof. The existing upper bowl rakers were to be replaced, modified and extended and some structures were to be strengthened to allow for increased loading requirements.

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