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Soldier Field
425 East McFetridge Drive
Chicago, IL 60605
Completion: 2003
Architect: Wood + Zapata, Inc.
Engineer: Thornton-Tomasetti Engineers

Soldier Field is the home of the Chicago Bears.  The original stadium shown below was small and inadequate and needed renovation.  The problem is that this stadium was on the historic buildings list so to deal with that problem, the outer facade of the stadium was kept and a new stadium was designed to fit inside the footprint of the original which presented several challenges.

The biggest challenge is that the distance between the two facades that were being kept is about 600 feet. In most NFL stadiums the distance from one side to the other is about 750 feet. In order to get a stadium with a seating capacity of over 61,000 into this small footprint cantilevers were used extensively.

Graphic courtesy of Thornton-Tomasetti Engineers

Graphic courtesy of Thornton-Tomasetti Engineers

In addition to the space being so small and having to cantilever very large sections of the stadium, the radial aspect around the stadium was more complex than most stadiums. To deal with this, 3-D Modeling was used very extensively for this project. This image shows the plan for the cantilevered seating in relation to the existing stadium.

Image courtesy of Thornton-Tomasetti Engineers

Another challenge was the time frame given to complete this project. Demolition began almost immediately after the Bears last game on Jan 20, 2002 and the stadium was finished in time for the home opener on Sept 29, 2003. This 20 month project is the shortest construction time for an NFL Stadium.

Photo Courtesy of Chicago Tribune

Taken less than a year after demolition, this picture shows one of the cantilevers under construction

Photo courtesy of Thornton-Tomasetti Engineers / David P. Mclean

Complex Radial Geometry

Photo courtesy of Thornton-Tomasetti Engineers / David P. Mclean

More Stadium Construction

Photo courtesy of Thornton-Tomasetti Engineers / David P. Mclean

Finished cantilevered scoreboard left and seating right.

Architectural Record

Finished inside of the stadium

Architectural Record

Finished Cantilever Support

Architectural Record

Cantilevered seating over the old facade. This new stadium resulted in the old stadium being removed from the historic building list.

Case study by: Tyler Greeves
ARE 320K Fall 2010

Stadium Engineer Drives Toward ‘Paperless’ Project

UT Library
Ford, Liam T. A. “Soldier Field : A Stadium and Its City.”

Glovannini, Joseph. “Boston architects Wood + Zapata stir up controversy at Chicago’s Soldier Field, inserting a Modern stadium into a Classically styled arena.” Architectural Record. May2004, Vol. 192 Issue 5, p114-121

Hill, John. “Chicago’s Soldier Field Loses Landmark Status.” Architecture. Jun2006, Vol. 95 Issue 6, p26-26

Written by Tyler Greeves

September 14, 2010 at 3:15 am

Posted in Uncategorized