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Finding the Net

BY DEBRA WOOD

Soccer fans are flocking to the $135.5 million LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan., which Turner Construction Co. of Kansas City, Mo., finished in 16 rather than 22 months and under budget. Project completion was in time for Sporting Kansas City to play all of its 2011 home games in the new facility, earning Turner an Alliant Build America award for Construction Management New.

“It’s a place fans can call home; we’re not just a tenant,” says Robb Heineman, CEO and an owner of Sporting Club, the parent organization of Sporting Kansas City, the Major League Soccer club. “It’s been transformational, because people have really taken ownership of the building.”

Sporting Kansas City has nearly sold out the 2012 season, doubling average attendance per game from 10,000 fans to 20,000 people.

Turner began working with the team when it planned a stadium in Kansas City, Mo., but then the team decided to move to a Kansas location, start over with a new design, and condense the construction schedule by 28 percent to 16 months.

“Although they thought it was a tough schedule, they accommodated and made it happen,” says Heineman. “We couldn’t be more pleased than we were with Turner. They were fantastic at every phase of the plan.”

Heineman; Andy Heitmann, project executive for Turner; and Jeff Spear, associate principal and lead project designer for Populous of Kansas City, Mo., credit a team approach for the successful completion. Representatives from the three entities met weekly and worked through issues as they arose, including the addition of another level with suites and other changes made possible with the $6 million Turner saved on construction.

“The owner, Turner and the designer worked together not only to accommodate schedule but to make sure we were doing things right,” says Heitmann. “The schedule compressed every decision, but what I think was most amazing was how well the team worked together.”

FAST-TRACKING THE PROJECT
While Populous continued working on the new 342,105-sq-ft stadium’s design, Turner built from partially complete documents during the first five months of construction. Structural engineers from Thornton Tomasetti of Kansas City, Mo., and Turner’s design-assist structural-steel subcontractor, The Bratton Corporation of Kansas City, Mo., expedited the structural drawings and released a mill order in January 2010, while the structural engineer completed the design.

The 14-inch by 14-inch square hollow structural section steel roof trusses, and the 10-inch by 6-inch hollow structural section truss web members required fabrication. On the west side, the trusses are 83-foot long and the last truss on the north side is 39-foot long.

“The trusses are unique, because the roof depth, cantilever length and elevation varies around the stadium,” says Robert Alan Treece, Thornton Tomasetti vice president.

The design-assist mechanical/plumbing subcontractor, US Engineering of Kansas City, Mo., worked with the architect to deliver mechanical and plumbing drawings by May 2010.

“We needed some flexibility, so when one small portion was available, we could work with that subcontractor to get that material and equipment delivered,” says Heitmann.

In a large bullpen office, designers and contractors resolved approximately 1,200 clashes detected in the building information model. For instance, Turner uncovered architectural and structural as well as mechanical and electrical conflicts and fixed most of those.

“We were going so fast, we didn’t have time to do things twice,” says Heitmann. “Build it in the model, progress forward and pick up most of the problems. We were able to do things once.”

Many materials for the project required long lead times and transportation issues arose. For instance, when a strike in Italy delayed the arrival of seats, Turner arranged to fly seats to Kansas City.

In addition, Turner worked multiple shifts. Dirt work proceeded 24 hours per day. Other subcontractors worked extended hours on two or three shifts for weeks at a time.

The soccer club recognized speeding up the project could present a safety risk, but Heineman adds, “Turner managed that beautifully, and we were able to avoid any major incidents.

A full-time on-site safety person and charging every superintendent with ensuring a safe environment — day or night, whether working on the ground or on the roof, 120 feet above — created an environment of safety.

Turner divided the project into work above and below the concourse area and hired different masonry, dry wall and other trades for the two levels above and two levels below.

“That gave us access to more labor and, second, if one subcontractor was not capable of handling a change, we could have another subcontractor ready to go,” says Heitmann. “Third, at the time this project hit, the economy in Kansas City was down, and we had access to some of the best in the hall coming, which helped a lot.”

Turner recycled, including the excavated rock, which was crushed and used by the city as subgrade in the parking lots. The company also exceeded the minority, women and local business participation goals, in part by breaking up the packages and creating partnerships with subcontractors.

Populous designed the stadium to sit on a small, sloped lot. The elevation changes by 33 feet from west to east.

“That helped us with getting services into the building and allowed us to create a unique supporters’ club,” says Spear. “They go in under the bowl and have wonderful views.”

On the west side, the design originally called for a 2-foot thick, 40-foot long wall with a 30-foot footing. Instead, Heitmann suggested a tieback shotcrete retaining wall for earth retention, with a masonry finish wall in front of it.

“It would save us shoring, excavation and time, which we didn’t have,” reports Heitmann.

The team changed the plans and saved two months and $1.5 million. The system entailed a soil-nailed tieback process, in which crews bored, inserted a steel tie rod, grouted the rods into the soil, and attached them to the shotcrete face to stabilize the earth as excavation progressed.

Turner installed the wall from the top down, excavating and stabilizing the soil as crews worked their way down, waterproofed it and added drain tile as a precaution. A mechanical exhaust system ensures stagnant air behind the finish wall would not collect.

THE STADIUM
“The owner was interested in making it the best fan experience possible, so everything we did was with an eye toward that,” says Spear.

Populous designed the stadium following a body and ball concept. The body is the base of the building, Spear explained. The architectural metal fins on the façade express motion.

“If you imagine a soccer player running down the field and motion capture his movements, putting a capture point at the shoulder, hip and ankle, it shows the muscularity of the sport and that motion,” says Spear.

The small site necessitated a steeper rake of the seating on the north and south than on the sidelines.

“The tight site gave us an interesting opportunity to do something different,” reports Spear.

Every seat provides a good view of the field.

“The sightlines are better, the stadium is customized, and the roof provides sound retention and helps the environment,” says Heineman.

The ascending roof starts at a low point and spirals around and is representative of the ball, Spear added. The roof cantilevers over the seats, creating an intimate setting and rebounds sound.

Thornton Thomasetti designed the roof structure with the trusses above the structural metal panel roof deck, which has a finished paint system and was attached to the bottom cord level of the trusses with matching screws and rubber gaskets.

“The look from underneath is clean,” says Treece. “Most of the structure can only be seen from above the stadium.”

Clear polycarbonate roof panels, fabricated in Israel with assembly components from Detroit, at the tips of the cantilevered deck allow sunlight into a portion of stadium to help the grass grow.

All of the conduit, soffits, downsouts and other similar items were produced in a standard color, custom-painted by a local shop and delivered for installation to ensure consistent color matching, which created a more finished appearance, while saving money.

“Not only did we build it fast, every minor detail was thought through, so the fan experience can be at its highest,” says Heitmann.

Fans are gravitating to the new stadium, and while some may just enjoy the game, others likely appreciate the thought that went into it. Heitmann indicated he and his company are proud of the project and how well everyone pulled together to quickly deliver a quality job under budget.

“If I was ever building something in this asset class again, there is no question, I would use Turner,” says Heineman. “We couldn’t be any happier than we are with the project.”