Curved Structural Steel Prepares for Football Season

The ceremonial end of summer, Labor Day, has come and gone, which means the kickoff to the American football season is upon us.  The excitement of the weekly battles between football rivals has been a long awaited treat.  Earlier this year, our hometown of Chicago hosted the annual NFL Draft, turning sections of downtown into a ‘Draft Town’. The NFL has already announced its plan to have Chicago host again next year after this year’s successful event.

Many people in Chicago are looking forward to the opening game of the season as the Green Bay Packers travel to Chicago to face off against the Bears, in one of the greatest rivalries in professional sports.  Some will be rooting for the home team, and some will root for our rivals to the north.  But the important thing is the return to the sport.

One thing that I think about when it comes to football are the unique traits of each team’s home stadiums.  As time has gone by, the demand for more seats and amenities has introduced more creativity in stadium design.  One hot topic that has been in the works for a number of years is the return of football to the Los Angeles area and the building of a new stadium to bring in new teams.   Current plans seem to suggest one or more teams will be moving in the near future to the market, and the proposed stadium designs offer many attractive elements of curved steel.

For example, the proposal from St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, which is one of the teams with the potential to move to the larger market, incorporates a design which evokes a wave-like feel to the covered stadium.  The stadium plan, which was crafted by architecture firm HKS, has a roof which encompasses the stadium and a surrounding plaza.  The design provides weather protection, but remains open on the sides, allowing the feeling of being outdoors with the breeze blowing through the grounds, which include a 6,000 seat performing arts venue and ‘Champions Plaza’.

The roof structure itself would pose a very interesting challenge for design, as the curved wave-like structure would invariably have multiple radial dimensions.  Curving structural steel members such as beams or tubes with multiple-radius changes requires skilled operators who can adjust to the difficulty of a high profile project such as this.  As well, for such a large project, the number of beam or tube sizes which will need to be rolled is likely to be diverse.  Which makes finding a bender/roller who has the capability to roll anything from the most common pipe sizes up to the largest structural beam and tube profiles advantageous to construction.


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