New stadium: It’s enclosed, but open-air


New stadium: It’s enclosed, but open-air Or is that the other way round? Anyhow, for a whopping $1 billion another NFL giant is now opening, breaking records just as we’re used to in the US.

US Bank Stadium, another of North America’s “billion+ stadiums” appeared on the horizon in 2012, following years of planning. HKS Architects were awarded design work, allowing the company to extend their impressive portfolio of stadia. Seeing how the Metrodome was defeated by harsh winters in Minnesota, the old stadium’s site was to hold a weather-proof stadium that would still seem open-air and welcoming.

US Bank Stadium© Minnesota Vikings

Though retractable roof was under consideration, it was deemed too expensive. Instead, a permanent dome of 11,000 tons of structural steel was designed, able to withstand even thick snow cover. The snow shouldn’t stay for long though, because the roof is slanted, owing to the stadium’s aggressive styling.

The asymmetric, angular form rises from the landscape towards the west (downtown), reaching height of 82 meters. This is where the immense main truss peaks, running along the full 300-meter length of the stadium.

US Bank Stadium© Minnesota Vikings

The building lowers towards the south, where it’s largely covered with transparent ETFE sheets. This way it receives great amount of sunlight throughout the day and remains visually open despite being entirely enclosed.

Altogether this part of the roof covers 22,300 m2, becoming the largest covered in ETFE across USA, upon opening. In total transparent or translucent elements cover nearly twice that surface throughout US Bank Stadium, roughly 40,000 m2. The sheer size raised concerns over birds flying into the stadium.

US Bank Stadium© Minnesota Vikings

The western façade is even more open than the roof. First, metaphorically. With majority of it being made with glass, the stadium seems welcoming. Second, practically. Five pivoting doors can open up a huge space of 2,200 m2 (largest of its kind), responding to the estimated crowd flow. Up to 70% of visitors were expected to come this way.

The project is impressive, but also controversial. Funding is taxpayer-footed, which with expenditure of over $1 billion caused criticism. Approved in 2013, it went under construction in December of that year, racing for delivery ahead of the 2016 NFL season.

US Bank Stadium© Minnesota Vikings

However, American football is hardly the only sport US Bank Stadium is being built for, even if Vikings are the key tenant to secure its financial viability. Bulk of the lowermost ring of seating is telescopic to allow even a baseball field inside, while also enabling seats to be moved closer for smaller-court events like basketball or boxing.

Altogether over 66,000 people can get inside, with optional expansion to 73,000 for special events like the Super Bowl (first coming in 2018!). Corporate portion of the stands were expanded from initial estimates to reach 8,900 business seats and 131 skyboxes.