A Dome To Remember

by James Denning, Civil Engineering, 345 East 47th St., New York, NY 10017,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1993, Vol. 63, Issue 11, Pg. 50-53

Document Type: Feature article


Under intense pressure from all sides, a trio of engineering and architectural firms working in San Antonio, Tex., turned the political coal of a stadium everyone wanted to build (but no one wanted to pay for) into a diamond called the Alamodome. The covered stadium is possibly the most flexible large arena in the world—able to hold football, basketball, Olympic ice competitions and enormous trade shows—and certainly one of the most cost efficient. With a budget of only $110 million two thirds of the standard budget for stadia that size, the firms of Marmon Mok, San Antonio; HOK Sports, Kansas City and W. E. Simpson Co., Inc., San Antonio, produced a striking addition to the downtown skyline. The stadium's most distinctive features are the four 306 ft tall towers that rise from the corners. Suspended from these towers is the roof, in the first application of cable-stayed bridge technology to a stadium use. The design provides a cost-effective way to cover the 9.5 acre building and is able to support up to 225,000 lb of lighting and sound equipment. The designers also found they could save money through value engineering and repetitive design. Ultimately, despite rain-delayed construction, the stadium was delivered only a hair over budget and, unlike most domes, should be paid off by the end of its first full year of operation.

Subject Headings: Stadiums and sport facilities | Budgets | Bridge design | Domes (structure) | Architectural engineering | Bridge towers | Cable stayed bridges | Cables | Kansas | United States

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