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Atlanta Stadium Construction Racing Toward New Deadline

Thursday, April 27, 2017

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Days after the opening of Atlanta’s $1.5 billion, LEED Platinum designed, Mercedes-Benz Stadium was delayed for a third time, a stadium official says workers are hastening their efforts in an attempt to get the facility ready for its late-August debut.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium general manager Scott Jenkins told The Associated Press on Tuesday (April 25) that the building is 90 percent complete, and "is looking great."

Mercedes-Benz Stadium

The opening of Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta has been deleayed three times, with the biggest holdup related to construction of the facility's retractable, steel-petal roof.

Jenkins says the biggest holdup has been construction of the roof. The challenge, he adds, is installing the eight steel “petals” that would enable the roof to retract and open like a camera lens.

The structure of the roof is the first of its kind and consists of eight metal panels—or petals—that will open simultaneously in under 10 minutes, officials say. It was designed by international architecture and engineering firm HOK (St. Louis, Missouri), in collaboration with tvsdesign, Goode Van Slyke Architecture and Stanley Beaman & Sears.

"The bulk of the building is done," Jenkins said. "The big feature is the operable roof, and that's the hardest piece to do. It's a gigantic structure that moves. So we're finishing up the steel erection for that. Right now, we are putting on the last pieces of the tips of the operable petals. Then we'll do the video board and finish the field.

"We are getting near the end."

New Target Date

Jenkins says the stadium should be completed by early August. The new scheduled opening date is Aug. 26, when the Falcons host the Arizona Cardinals in a National Football League preseason game.

The complexity of the roof design had already delayed the opening three times. The stadium was first slated to open on March 1, then was pushed back to June 1, and then again to July 30.

Steve Cannon, CEO of Atlanta Falcons parent company AMB Group, said April 18 that the opening would then be delayed from the July 30 date, when a Major League Soccer match featuring the Atlanta United was to have been played in the new stadium, to Aug. 26. The soccer match will be played at Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium on July 29.

Cannon confirms that the “decommissioning” and demolition of the neighboring Georgia Dome had to be put on hold “until we are 100 percent certain of achieving our certificate of occupancy.”

“This really does represent an insurance policy,” he said. “We do not expect to use the Georgia Dome whatsoever.”

NCAA Football on Tap

Cannon said the Chick-fil-A Kickoff college football games slated for Labor Day weekend will be played at the new stadium.

Chick-fil-A Kickoff game officials have decided to play the Alabama-Florida State and Georgia Tech-Tennessee games on Sept. 2 and 4 with the roof closed, which will eliminate the variable of weather.

Gary Stokan, president and CEO of Peach Bowl Inc., which runs the Chick-fil-A Kickoff, said his decision to hold the kickoff event with the roof closed is unrelated to stadium construction issues. He said he prefers for the games to be played with the roof closed to ensure controlled conditions.

“I know when it’s closed, everything is going to go well,” Stokan says. “The air conditioning will be fine. … I think whenever you put on an event, the less things you need to be concerned about, the better. And I know with the roof closed it’ll be a great atmosphere and experience.

“If I keep it closed, the weather doesn’t matter. I know I’ve got 72 degrees. I think you want to control the elements as much as you can, obviously, not only for the fans but for the coaches and the players.”

Going Platinum

Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be the first NFL and Major League Soccer stadium designed to achieve LEED Platinum status.

Built by general contractor HHRM JV—a joint venture of Holder Construction Company, Hunt Construction Group, H.J. Russell & Company and C.D. Moody Construction Company—the stadium will earn every water credit available among the 80 that are needed to reach the Platinum level, which is a first for a facility of its type. Among project design features are a 1.1 million-gallon storm vault and a 680,000-gallon cistern to collect water.

Recaptured water will be reused and irrigated for the landscape (which includes edible plants that will go to the community) and cooling towers.

Also, 4,000 solar panels will allow the stadium to use nearly 30 percent less energy than a regular sports venue. Construction has maintained a nearly 80 percent waste-diversion rate.

Dome Doomed...Eventually

Falcons officials have unveiled plans for a greenspace adjacent to the new stadium, a project they say will reconnect historic Westside neighborhoods with downtown Atlanta.

But when those plans come to fruition is anybody’s guess.

The greenspace is slated to be developed on the site of the Georgia Dome, which was originally targeted for demolition in July. But it could be postponed amid construction delays with Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“There’s no date set for the demolition,” says Brett Jewkes, senior vice president and chief communications officer of Falcons parent company AMB Group.

After the Georgia Dome is razed and the debris cleared, the Falcons plan to develop a 13-acre lawn known as The Backyard. The space will be used for game-day parking and tailgating, but also “arts and cultural events, entertainment, and community activation beginning in 2018,” officials said in a press release.

Taking Flight

One of the more unique features at Mercedes-Benz Stadium is a 73,000-pound sculpture of a falcon, constructed by Gabor Miklos Szoke of Budapest.

According to, the stainless-steel falcon is 41.5 feet tall with a 64-foot wingspan. The Falcons say it is the largest bird sculpture in the world.

A second piece—a mirror-faceted soccer ball standing almost 35 feet high and created by Studio Roso of London--will sit near the North entrance overlooking the green space.


Tagged categories: Building Envelope; Commercial Construction; LEED; North America; Roofing contractors; Stadiums/Sports Facilities

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