Published: January 08, 2008
It has been more than a year since the innovative University of Phoenix stadium in Glendale, AZ was commissioned.
In the year ahead, the stadium, home to the National Football League’s Arizona Cardinals, will host an increasing number of events, beginning with the Fiesta Bowl on January 2, 2008. In February, the venue will host Super Bowl XLII, and in March 2009, the NCAA Men’s Regional Basketball Tournament.
So, it’s a fair time to ask if the structure is meeting expectations.
Birdair fabricated and constructed the stadium’s tensile membrane and steel cable structure in 2006. Walter P. Moore and Associates worked in collaboration with Birdair to engineer the structure. The unique structure features two curved panels riding on rails at 15-degree angles to a tangent point 206 feet above grade at midfield. The signature canopy consists of 104,346 square feet (9,690 sq. meters) of translucent woven fiberglass fabric.
The structure was designed in accordance with the requirements of world renowned architect Peter Eisenman, architect for the stadium project. Taking note of Birdair’s previous work in Germany with the Cargolifter AG airship hangar, Eisenman chose Birdair to fabricate the stadium’s roofing system.
“I took some risks,” says Eisenman. “I’ve been told by people that I broke the mold in U.S. sports architectural design. Working with Birdair’s technical staff of design engineers helped me accomplish that.”
In addition to meeting the architect’s design constraints, the tensile fabric assembly also supplies many functional benefits. These include improved comfort for patrons, since the fabric roof offers shading from the hot Arizona desert climate, as well as significant savings on costs associated with electrical lighting and maintenance.
“We wanted a material that would require simple periodic maintenance without time-intensive cleaning or repair,” says John Drum, senior director of stadium operations for the Arizona Cardinals. “Birdair provided us with a structural fabric that meets those goals. On non-game days, the sports lighting is rarely used or needed. With over 300 days of sunshine on average in Arizona, there is enough natural daylight that we can conserve electricity without sacrificing functionality.”
The fabric roof has maintained its durability through extreme temperatures, wind and occasional torrential rain storms. Birdair additionally designed and installed “stand offs,” vertical metal plates used to absorb lightning strikes and prevent possible damage. The roofing structure’s outer perimeter also shades and protects patrons during events.
In addition to its fabric roof, the stadium offers many other amenities. The 63,400-seat stadium (expandable to 73,000) offers numerous advancements in stadium design from unobstructed sightlines and concourses to wider seats, luxury “lofts” and business conference centers. The stadium also features the world’s first natural grass retractable field.
Currently, Birdair’s lightweight roofing systems are found on eight National Football League venues as well as numerous soccer and Olympic sport stadiums across the globe. In Arizona, Birdair’s work can be seen at Chase Field in Phoenix, the Phoenix Central Library and the Mesa Arts Center. Birdair is currently constructing tensile canopies for transit stops on the Phoenix Valley Light Rail Transportation System, slated for completion in 2008.
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Location: Glendale, Arizona
About Birdair: Birdair, Inc. is the leading specialty contractor of custom tensile structures throughout the world. In addition to pre-construction services such as design assistance, budgeting, construction methodologies and project scheduling, Birdair provides design-build solutions in all aspects of project design, engineering, installation and maintenance. The company offers a selection of architectural fabric membranes, including PTFE fiberglass, ETFE film, PVC and Tensotherm™. Birdair, based in Buffalo, NY, is a member of the Taiyo Kogyo Group, with operations serving North and South America and other international locations. For more information about Birdair, like us on Facebook, call 1-800-622-2246 or visit www.birdair.com.