Santa Fe Sensation

by Virginia Fairweather, Editor in Chief; Civil Engineering Magazine, ASCE World Headquarters, 345 East 47th Street, New York City, NY.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1998, Vol. 68, Issue 5, Pg. 36-39

Document Type: Feature article


The new renovation of the Sante Fe Opera Theater is a striking combination of architecture and engineering. The owners wanted to upgrade amenities, especially ADA compliance, and to protect musicians, performers and audiences from the driving rains in the area. The solution was to redesign the roof, without sacrificing the open air tradition. The engineering was ingenious. The design involved re-using the existing four star columns in the structure, demolishing and removing all the material above those columns. The new roof had to be light enough for the columns to bear and the architects and engineers devised a structure suspended from a system of steel rods and masts. The shape of the ceilings inside was dictated by the acoustician. The building now has two roofs, one for the newly enlarged balcony area and one above the stage and the orchestra seats. Performance capabilities are also improved. The technical penthouse above the stage is easier to work in; the new design allowed removal of diagonal trusses in the roof, and workers can walk directly across the penthouse without having to duck under truss members. The construction procedure was a complicated iterative tensioning, stressing and checking process that took several weeks to complete. Each steel rod had bear a precise load under precise tensioning to support the two roofs. A clerestory joining the two roofs is another feature of the new Opera Theater.

Subject Headings: Roofs | Trusses | Suspended structures | Steel structures | Steel columns | Rods | Public buildings

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