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Alamodome, San Antonio, 1993 OCEA
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The success of the Alamodome is owed to its innovative and flexible design - maximizing usable square footage and accommodating mixed uses with the capability of accommodating over forty different types of events. The Alamodome features a 9 acre roof, which can be expanded or contracted independent of the concrete structure below and the largest retractable seating unit in the world – seating 72,000 people for large concerts and reconfiguring to 32,000 for basketball or hockey.  It was also the first building in North America with two permanent ice rinks and the only domed stadium to have permanent ice sheets as part of its design.   


The structural economy of the Alamodome is remarkable -  a particularly valuable attribute for a stadium built during an economic downturn. Structural engineers were able to allow for the enormous flat roof expanses by supporting the roof structure with cable stays at each corner and utilizing two sets of tie-back cables for each column to transfer the load to the ground. This was an innovative technique which had never before been used in stadium design. Further contributing to structural economy of the building, a wind tunnel study provided support for the unusual design of the 378’ long bowstring trusses, which use bridge cables for the bottom chord. The stadium is also remarkable for having been built on such a narrow site. In addition to contributing to the complexity of design consideration, the site is located between an expressway and a railroad, so it called for traffic engineering studies which helped to ensure the success of moving large crowds to and from events; the space constraints of the site also called for additional parking considerations such as shuttle and pedestrian walkway access. 

City of San Antonio
W.E. Simpson Company Inc (Structural and Civil)
HOK Sports Facilities Group
Marmon Mok
 Stanley J. Sarman, ©2013 ASCE, Texas Section

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