Floating Fabric Over Georgia Dome

by Matthys Levy, (M.ASCE), Principal; Weidlinger Associates, New York, NY,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1991, Vol. 61, Issue 11, Pg. 34-37

Document Type: Feature article


The 400,000 sq ft free-span roof cover the new $210 million Georgia Dome may look as festive as a circus tent. But next fall, when the 70,500-seat arena becomes the home of the Atlanta Falcons, football fans will appreciate the roof for more practical reasons: It won't unexpectedly deflate. Poles, rather than mechanically blown air, provide its structural stability. Yet the poles won't block the spectator's view, because they are suspended from wires rather than planted in the ground. This unique top is the next major step in the development of fabric structures. When Weidlinger Associates, New York was asked to design the roof for the Georgia Dome, the firm reinterpreted an idea first expounded by Buckminster Fuller in 1954. At that time, Fuller patented a triangle-based roof system he called an aspension (for ascending suspension) or tensegrity dome, describing it as a structure in which islands of compression reside in a sea of tension. This dome consisted of a radial series of discontinuous trusses. The bottom chord, rather than sitting in the same plane as the trusses, existed as a series of hoops to tie the radial trusses together. David Geiger gave life to this idea with his designs for the circular roof at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. But, rather than use the triangulated geometry proposed by Fuller, he based his circular dome design on radial planar trusses. For the design of the Georgia Dome roof, we decided to return to Fuller's triangular concept.

Subject Headings: Roofs | Trusses | Domes (structure) | Radiation | Fabrics | Stadiums and sport facilities | Fabric structures | Suspended structures | Georgia | United States | Atlanta | New York | Seoul | South Korea | Asia

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