Covering  
all the  
Angles  
Project Team Tackles  
Atlanta Stadium  
with Complex Shapes  
and Lots of Glass  
b y E l l e n R o g e r s  
Glass was a significant design component in the new  
Mercedes-Benz stadium, helping create a bright,  
transparent space.  
52  
USGlass, Metal & Glazing | November 2017  
www.usglassmag.com  
conic buildings don’t just happen. They take a dedicated,  
focused team, careful planning and buy-in from all—es-  
pecially the owner. That’s certainly the case for the recently  
completed Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta,the new home  
to the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and Major League Soccer’s At-  
I
lanta United FC.  
The iconic nature of the new stadium was the vision of Arthur  
Blank, owner of the Falcons,” says Gus Drosos, vice president/  
technical principal with architectural firm HOK in St. Louis.  
The Georgia Dome [the previous stadium] was very dark,”  
says Drosos. “One thing the owner wanted was transparency  
and illumination within the stadium.”  
And that meant large spans of glass,set within a unique form.  
The exterior façade incorporates angled glass panels placed  
within triangular curtainwall systems, spanning up to 65 feet  
at the top down to 15 feet. Given the complexity of the struc-  
ture, the project team had to think beyond conventional design  
and construction methods, and embraced advances in com-  
puter and software technology—developments that are help-  
ing transform construction projects into increasingly complex  
structures that are anything but square.  
The Design  
The 2-million-square-foot, $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Sta-  
dium opened August 26, 2017 with a preseason game between  
the Arizona Cardinals and Atlanta Falcons. It gave spectators  
a unique experience, such as viewing a 360-degree halo video  
board, a retractable roof that opens and closes like a camera  
aperture (see sidebar on page 55) and a 16-story “window to  
the city” that provides floor-to-ceiling views of the downtown  
skyline.  
“On the stadium’s west side, the window to the city spans  
more than 16 stories and 22,500 square feet, offering unfor-  
gettable floor-to-ceiling views of Atlanta,” explains HOK’s Bill  
Johnson,senior vice president and design principal for Sports +  
Recreation + Entertainment.He adds that the ethylene tetraflu-  
oroethylene (ETFE),a fluorine-based plastic,which is the same  
transparent material used in the roof petals, provides visual  
connectivity and natural light while supporting the stadium’s  
ambitious sustainability goals. (The project is currently antici-  
pating LEED Platinum certification.)  
Johnson adds, “The shape of the facade follows the roof ’s  
form, with angular, wing-like sections inspired by the shape of  
a falcon.We wanted the design to be unique to Atlanta,connect-  
ing visitors and fans to the city skyline.”  
Gary, Ind.-based Crown Corr was the contract glazier and  
was responsible for installation of the glass as well as 350,000  
square feet of metal panels supplied by Centria.  
Crown Corr vice president of sales Tom Niepokoj says his  
company has worked on 19 NFL stadiums,and was able to draw  
from past experiences. He says the general contractor, Holder,  
Hunt,Russell,Moody,a Joint Venture,brought them on the proj-  
ect about two years in advance of work beginning,which meant  
they could be involved early on in areas such as pre-construc-  
tion, budgets, schedules and buildability.  
continued on page 54  
www.usglassmag.com  
November 2017 | USGlass, Metal & Glazing  
53  
Ccoonvtienuriendgfroamllptahgee5A3 ngles  
The new stadium features 100,000 square feet of glass  
that played a key role in its transparency and aesthetic.  
The stadium features 100,000 square parency and bring daylight into the  
Steve Crawford, Crown Corr senior  
feet of glass on the exterior. Viracon building ...and how the stadium trans- project executive, agrees that paramet-  
supplied VRE 1-46 insulating glass forms at night, it takes on another look ric modeling was important.  
with a low-E coating. Drosos says the and the glazing is part of that.”  
glass played an important role in the  
“Sharing of models allowed for a  
seamless transfer of the 3D skin geom-  
etry definition from the design team to  
desired overall aesthetic.  
Making it Work  
“We wanted to stay away from the  
To make the owner’s visions a reality, us and other trades,” he says, explain-  
traditional greenish hue of glass and collaboration and communication from ing they were able to use the modeling  
maintain that silvery metallic look [as the beginning were paramount to ensur- in coordination between their enclo-  
with the metal panels]. Doing that, and ing success.A close relationship between sure systems (curtainwall, metal pan-  
still meeting the energy codes, [made HOK and Crown Corr was essential.  
glass selection] very important,” he  
Drosos says Crown Corr brought and other trades such as ETFE, roofing  
says, adding that the glass, which has critical input early on to the design-as- and the façade structure.  
a silvery appearance, allowed for a sist project.  
“Early on in the project we devel-  
“You’re constantly working [to- oped a control surface model, which  
gether] on the build-ability, pricing/ was used to locate in space all intersec-  
els, louvers and secondary framing)  
monolithic look, [through] the colors  
on the building.  
Gardner Metal Systems based in budget, design issues—all in collabo- tions between the various enclosure  
Acworth, Ga., fabricated the custom ration,” says Niepokoj. “Everyone was systems,” says Crawford. “Each system  
unitized curtainwall.  
According to Gardner vice president  
of operations Jeff Gardner, his com- were the key to the design.  
pany’s scope of work included 9,000  
outstanding to work with.”  
Drosos says unique software tools trol surfaces. This ensured there were  
no gaps or interferences between the  
“We worked with parametric model- systems or the façade structure.”  
was then detailed out using these con-  
square feet of stick built curtainwall at ing software early on and that allowed  
the plinth level (below the concourse) us to [adjust/change] the skin/façade Nothing is Easy  
and 80,000 square feet of unitized cur- ...” says Drosos. “When Crown Corr  
A lot of considerations go into de-  
tainwall at the eight facets of the con- came on, they brought to the table [a signing and building such a complex  
course level.  
Some of the unique aspects of this we were doing when we, for exam- the budget.  
project include the large glass sizes and ple, were stretching the triangle. They “I think that was one of the biggest  
focus on] the constructability of what structure, and one of the largest was  
the large unit sizes. The largest unit size brought that reality and allowed us to we were asked to solve,” Drosos says,  
is 11 feet,11 inches wide and 23 feet,11 design and be realistic in what they explaining they carefully thought out  
inches tall,and weighing approximately could provide.”  
,200 pounds each,” says Gardner. He continues,“They took our models would be a cost-effective installation.  
These large sizes produce greater de- and used them to offer feedback to us. Jim Anderson, Crown Corr senior  
the entire project’s design to ensure it  
2
sign loads resulting in large extrusion That brought us to a cost effective solu- project manager, says as far as the in-  
profiles to accommodate the loads. tion for the glazing and the metal panels. stallation, another challenge had to do  
Crating and shipping these large units It was informative to see, given some of with coordinating simultaneously with  
also presented additional obstacles.”  
Speaking of the curtainwall, Drosos and corners. The modeling software al-  
adds, “The sloping curtainwall system lowed us to a collaborate well all the way tion with other trades was critical prior  
the complicated detailing in the shapes the other façade trades.  
“Pre-planning, layout and coordina-  
was so important to create the trans- through, so there were no surprises.”  
to installation,” he says.“Units had to be  
54  
USGlass, Metal & Glazing | November 2017  
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The Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta features a kinetic roof that opens  
and closes like a camera aperture.  
TFhrormothue bgeghinnintgh, tehe dResiognoinftent of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium was to  
snaked through the installed façade steel  
from the ground to their final position.  
Anderson says several steps  
were taken to ensure a safe, quality  
installation.  
create a unique, standout structure that would not only be bright, but one that  
would create a fan experience. The HOK architectural team was able to accom-  
plish that with a number of unique features--including one impressive roof.  
Architects created a kinetic roof structure that opens and closes like a cam-  
era aperture. According to architects, the semi-transparent roof was inspired by  
the Roman Pantheon. It consists of eight triangular ethylene tetrafluoroethylene  
(ETFE) panels that move in unison along 16 tracks. More than 143,500 square  
feet of ETFE “pillows” are used in the petals alone. In the closed position, the  
petals lock together to form a watertight seal.  
“Safety life lines had to be installed  
on the curtainwall support steel as  
tie-off for the anchor crew; the an-  
chor crew worked off the support steel  
beams to anchor the curtainwall back  
to the structure,” he says.“A lot of time  
and care went into positioning the 75-  
ton crane so that units could be pulled  
off the ground and snaked through the  
façade steel without damaging the unit  
or other trades work.”  
Advances in parametric modeling  
and software, Drosos adds, will con-  
tinue to create opportunities for more  
complex structures in the future.  
“We wanted to challenge the utilitarian nature of existing retractable roofs,”  
says HOK’s Bill Johnson, senior vice president and design principal for Sports +  
Recreation + Entertainment. “Conventional kinetic roofs feature sliding panels  
that don’t contribute to the aesthetic of the venue. Our vision in Atlanta was to  
create a roof that would change the conversation about kinetic architecture and  
contribute to the game-day experience. It is beautiful and sculptural both in the  
open and closed positions.”  
According to information about the stadium provided on its website:  
• “The stadium roof may appear to rotate open but it’s an optical illusion, the  
roof opens by the movement of eight petals that slide open in a straight line.”  
• “Each of the moving petals cantilever approximately 200 feet inwards towards  
the center of the stadium and provide a roof covering when the petals are in  
the closed position.”  
• “The moveable petal structures are powered by eight mechanized ‘bogies’  
which drive the petals along an inner rail and are attached to the outer uplift  
rail by six roller mechanisms.”  
Gus Drosos, HOK vice president/technical principal, says this stadium’s ki-  
netic feature could serve as a model for similar projects in the future.  
“The owner had a vision. We brought the design, and he saw and embraced it.  
I think that’s the key in the future. [Kinetic architecture] has to be a full-on team  
effort. The owner has to buy into it; it’s not just a box.”  
“I think if we can promote working  
together with the subcontractors and  
fabricators a little more hand-in-hand  
even more phenomenal things can be  
accomplished. There are advantages to  
the owners as far as it being cost effec-  
tive. The software allows us to do more  
structures like the Mercedes-Benz Sta-  
dium—to not be scared away from  
it—and become more integrated with  
the delivery of the building. The soft-  
ware will be key to iconic buildings of  
the future.”  
He adds, though, that a structure like this does come at a premium, so in  
order to be successful, there has to be a commitment across the board.  
The kinetic part is something with a cost involvement that an owner has to  
recognize and it has to be part of the vision to allow the architectural team to pull  
it off,” says Drosos. “In this particular case, the owner wanted an iconic building.  
Period. He brought us in, understood it and this was herculean and aggressive.  
The whole team has to be on the same page to understand what it entails.”  
He continues, “And I think it’s phenomenal, seeing what a kinetic structure  
can bring to a city, a team and the overall community. There are opportunities  
E l l e n R o g e r s is the  
editor of USGlass magazine.  
Follow her on Twitter @  
EllenGRogers and like her on  
Facebook at usgellenrogers to  
receive updates.  
[for more]; there just has to be buy-in from everyone.” n  
www.usglassmag.com  
November 2017 | USGlass, Metal & Glazing  
55  

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