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). The plan for his championship team included a stadium boasting the world’s largest HDTV video scoreboard, a retractable roof designed to pay homage to Texas Stadium, and two operable end zone window walls that are the biggest walls of their kind in the world.
Loyalty has always been important for Cowboys fans, and so the team’s new home was designed so that the retractable roof, when open, creates 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. An added benefit is the power generated as the system slowly allows the roof to roll downhill when opening.
To help that process, Uni-Systems also designed rotating pins that the two massive arches connect to. The rotation compensates for the natural flexibility and bending the steel structures endure as movement occurs. Only a very slight rotation of these arch pins allows the peaks of the arches to move several inches.
To add to the stadium’s open atmosphere, two operable window walls were installed at each end zone. 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.