Engineering feats on Ford Field, the new home for the Detroit Lion’s starting with the 2002 football season, are making history in the construction world.
Early in December, construction workers lifted into place the project’s second massive roof truss that spanned together nearly 80 percent of the stadium’s steel roof. The approximately 3,000-ton (2,722 t) portion of the roof was hoisted 100 ft. (30 m) into the air from the ground by a computerized system of pulleys, cables and jacks, according to Matt Barnhart, director of Media Relations of the Lions. The truss, made of high-strength structural steel, was fabricated on the ground prior to the lift.
This structural achievement is the second lift of this magnitude to occur on the Ford Field project site, and it accompanies the first lift (in November 2001) as two of the largest ever to occur in building construction history, Barnhart noted. The lifts of this magnitude are the first of their kind in the United States.
Construction is almost complete on the roof project. The 10,500-ton (9,525 t) roof will be supported by two 18-ft. (5.5 m) wide concrete columns. The stadium dome covers the field, with parts of the red brick warehouse exposed. Daylight will peak through translucent panels at the rim of the roof, to bring the outdoors into this indoor arena.
The Lions broke ground on the new, $315-million stadium in November 1999. Just one year later it was named the site of Super Bowl XL, to be played on Feb. 5, 2006. When completed, the stadium will be about 40 ft. (12.2 m) below street level, and will include a giant 80-ft. (24.4 m) glass wall, revealing the picturesque Detroit skyline. The stadium will be located across from the recently moved Gem Theatre, and newly renovated Detroit Opera House and the new Comerica Park baseball stadium. Coupled with the Detroit Casinos and other development projects, Ford Field is a major cog in the regrowth plan for the city.
A unique feature to the new stadium’s design is its integration with the old Hudson’s warehouse, built in the 1920s, which preserves an important piece of Detroit’s history.
“We wanted something unique to Detroit,” said team owner William Clay Ford in a Detroit Free Press interview. “We wanted this stadium to showcase the city’s turnaround.”
The warehouse portion will house nearly all of the stadium luxury seats, the press box, restaurant and banquet areas, and retail and office space. The 120 luxury suites will be on three levels in the warehouse building. Most of the non-suite seating will be below ground level, close to the field, providing better sight lines for the fans. The worst seats, project managers said, are the equivalent of the fourth row, upper deck in most new stadiums.
Named after its largest benefactor — The Ford Motor Co. — the new stadium, scheduled to open in August 2002, will include 65,000 seats, over a 1.35-million-sq.-ft. (125,419 sq m) area.
Another prominent feature will be an indoor concourse, on a section lined with shops and restaurants. About a third of the existing warehouse will be devoted to the stadium, with another third to other commercial development.
The project, which provided between 1,500 and 2,000 area construction jobs, used a Caissons foundation, with a concrete and steel frame. Architects for the project were SHG Inc., Rossetti Associates Architects and Hamilton Anderson Associates Inc. Project manager is the Hammes Company.
The Lion’s first game at the downtown Ford Field — 25 years after leaving Detroit for the suburbs — will be their first of the preseason, vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers. The new stadium will also be available for various concerts, conventions, tradeshows and other entertainment events. An estimated 5.5-million people will attend events in the arena when the field is complete. CEG
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