Retractable Roof and Operable Endzone Wall | Cowboys Stadium | Uni-Systems Projects
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Retractable Roof, Operable Endzone Wall, and Mechanized Video Board
Jerry Jones, owner of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, wanted to give fans a stadium unlike any other (and to show that everything in Texas is indeed bigger). With loyalty being a key component to any true Cowboys fan, the team’s new home was designed so that the retractable roof, when open, created a rectangular exposure that looks just like the permanent opening at the Cowboys’ previous home, Texas Stadium.
Uni-Systems was presented with the challenge to design a mechanization system on two rounded arches, the steepest incline the company has worked with yet. Engineers designed a custom rack-and-pinion drive system to ensure the roof’s operation as it climbs the tall arches. The powerful system easily conquers the incline, driving the 800,000-pound roof panels up to their closed positions.
When the roof is opening and traveling down the incline, the motors’ function is actually to slow the roof, allowing gravity to do most of the driving. Using regenerative drives, the power generated through this process is harnessed and input back into the stadium’s power grid.
End Zone Walls
To add to the stadium’s open atmosphere, two operable window walls were installed at each end zone. Clad in glass and offering the stadium unprecedented natural lighting even when closed, these world-record-sized walls offer a stunning panoramic view of the area surrounding the stadium.
The entire system is designed to give Cowboys fans and stadium guests an open-air stadium, but when the intense humidity and heat of north Texas becomes overpowering, the environment can be closed and controlled. Not only do fans remain comfortable, they remain safe. The roof and walls are protected against strong winds through a series of locks and tie-downs designed to keep moving components closed even when the wind may be blowing.
Finally, With work on the Cowboys Stadium nearly complete, Jerry Jones and his stadium team were able to marvel at the results of all their work and dedication. With events already scheduled, the new stadium was already a draw for the public. One of the first events that would demonstrate the stadium’s multipurpose aspect was a U2 concert. However, a problem quickly became apparent.
A concert stage used by U2 on their world tour required the stadium’s center-hung scoreboard to be lifted higher to accommodate the massive traveling stage. While a temporary solution was considered, the Cowboys and their design/construction team took it one step further.
Uni-Systems went in immediately to raise the scoreboard for the concert in time, but also installed numerous cable drives to give the stadium ultimate versatility. The scoreboard can now be raised or lowered when necessary from a height of 25 feet to 115 feet above the playing field. The flexibility in the board’s placement allows the operations team to cater to specific events, but keep the display exactly where it was designed to be during football games.
The lifting power comes from several cable drives similar to those used in other Uni-Systems projects. These drives provide raw lifting power to raise or lower the 700-ton scoreboard, while several additional drives maintain tensioned cables that stop the scoreboard from swaying. The entire system is designed to safely and efficiently move the video board while giving the operations crew and event planners the peace of mind they need.
With the video board mechanization in place, Cowboys Stadium stands alone in the world of multipurpose stadiums. Its innovative and impressive features set it apart and make it a truly one-of-a-kind facility.
Location: Arlington, Texas
Scope of Work: Design, Fabricate, Install
Project Engineer: Justin Waldron
Project Client: Manhattan Construction
Architect: HKS, Inc.
General Contractor: Manhattan Construction
Structural Engineer: Walter P Moore