Weidlinger Associates, Inc., was the designer of the one-of-a kind twin-peak fabric dome of Argentina’s La Plata Stadium, winner of the prestigious 2012 Outstanding Structure Award from the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering (IABSE). The award, which recognizes “…the most remarkable, innovative, creative, or otherwise stimulating structures…” from throughout the world, was presented to the stadium’s owner, Buenos Aires Province, at the 22nd Jornadas Argentinas de Ingeniería Estructural (Congress of Argentinean Structural Engineers) in September.
The Outstanding Structure Award, established in 1998, is among the highest distinctions bestowed by the IABSE. Each year, one structure is selected to receive the award, which is presented to the structure’s owner. Diplomas are provided to the owner for distribution to parties involved in planning, design, and construction. Criteria for the award include innovation, creativity, sustainability, and respect for the environment.
As a follow-up to the award, the IABSE will publish a paper by Weidlinger in a 2013 issue of the organization’s journal, Structural Engineering International (SEI), detailing the design and construction of the stadium and its precursors. The article, to be authored by La Plata’s designers and project managers, Andrzej Brzozowski, Gregory Freeman, Tian-Fang Jing, and Matthys Levy, will chronicle the adaptation of the Tenstar Dome tensegrity roof system, beginning with the iconic Georgia Dome developed by Levy.
Clad in a PTFE (Teflon®) fiberglass membrane, La Plata is the first fabric-covered stadium in South America and the first South American stadium designed to be fully enclosed, with the option of being partially covered. The dome’s patented “Twinstar” design is also the first adaptation of the Tenstar Dome tensegrity roof concept to a twin-peak contour, forming a figure-eight-shaped central opening by using tension to resist distortion. Unlike some other tensile roofing systems, La Plata’s does not rely on its fabric to provide stability.
Weidlinger provided complete structural engineering services through its final construction in 2011. The firm originally designed the stadium with architect Roberto Ferreira in the late 1990s, based on a prize-winning concept that employed its unique dog-bone configuration to provide separate identities for the two football teams that were its intended residents. But construction was halted in 2000, when Argentina’s economy faltered. The 53,000-seat stadium opened in 2003 with only a playing field and seating bowl, and lacking its signature twin-peaked fabric dome.
In 2009, when the site was chosen to host the opening game of the 2011 Copa América, construction was resumed, and the completed stadium, for which Birdair, Inc., provided construction-management services, reopened on February 17, 2011.
“I’m thrilled that the IABSE has selected La Plata Stadium to receive this prestigious award and that the international community of structural engineers represented by the organization recognizes the extraordinary nature of this structure,” said Weidlinger Principal Tian-Fang Jing. “It confers prestige on the entire family of Tenstar Dome stadiums that preceded it, starting with the Georgia Dome, and encourages us to create new and daring configurations with this innovative technology.”
Founded in 1929 and headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering (IABSE) is a scientific/technical association comprising approximately 4,000 members in 100 countries, encompassing 48 National Groups worldwide. The association aims to exchange knowledge and to advance the practice of structural engineering worldwide in the service of the profession and society.
Weidlinger Associates, Inc., is a 300-person structural engineering firm that designs and rehabilitates buildings, bridges, and infrastructure and provides special services in applied science, forensics, and physical security. The firm, which celebrated its 60th year in 2009, is recognized worldwide for its innovative and practical design solutions and for its long-term commitment to advancing the state of the art in engineering. Headquartered in New York City, the firm has branch offices in the United States and the United Kingdom. For more information, please see www.wai.com.