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Princeton Gets High Marks


For Precast Stadium Design

Unique horseshoe-shaped precast concrete building and precast trapezoidal risers
create a year-round facility that offers distinctive look and challenging design

hen Princeton University moving the service function into the Pa., consulting specialty engineer on the
administrators decided to ‘wall building,’ introducing natural light project. “This stadium is a significant
replace the existing Palmer and bringing extensive planting in this architectural wonder with unique
Stadium, they had one overriding goal: space, we tried to achieve a new kind of elements. The goal was to be unique,
Make it the most distinguished and covered public space, which can be en- and it achieved that—but it also
intimate collegiate stadium in the joyed independent of sporting events.” included some design ideas that other
United States. Achieving that goal The stadium consists of a horseshoe- stadium designers may be able to
involved a number of design challenges shaped structure built of precast incorporate, too.”
that took advantage of the unique concrete load-bearing architectural
capabilities inherent in precast concrete panels that houses all of the services Fast-Track Schedule Needed
seating units and in load- and nonload- needed for football games, including Accomplishing the full range of goals,
bearing precast concrete architectural ticket offices, restrooms and concession especially on the tight, 18-month time
panels. stands. Inside this shape is the stadium, frame required, proved challenging in
“One major objective in designing containing seating for 27,800 specta- many ways. It required close coopera-
this stadium was to make it a year- tors, arranged on two tiers. The lower tion among all construction team

round facility,” explains Chan-li Lin, bowl consists of a combination of cast- members, says Wilden. “During the
project architect for Rafael Vinoly in-place seating on three sides and design and shop-drawing phase of the
Architects P.C. “All too many stadiums precast concrete risers at the open end. project, we met with the architect and
are closed for access on non-game days, Above this, appearing to “float” over structural engineer every two weeks for
and there usually are only six football more than three months to discuss the
games per year at Princeton. That most efficient way to design compo-
14 meant the original stadium, surrounded ‘This stadium is nents and go over the nitty-gritty details
by a chain-link fence, sat empty most of
the time.” The new design allows the
a significant of how to make things work. We had
great cooperation from everyone, which
perimeter building to be used for other architectural wonder.’ helped overcome some of the frustra-
university functions throughout the tions that a job of this complexity
year, keeping both it and the concourse usually has.”
area accessible for community events, each of the three enclosed sides, is a Turner Construction Co. in
without making the field accessible, too. trapezoidal seating area composed of Philadelphia served as construction
Another key element in the design precast concrete triple risers. These manager, with Thornton Tomasetti
came in adding daylight to the typically risers feature open slots in their backs Engineers in New York serving as
dark space behind the seating, Lin says. that allow light to penetrate to the structural engineer.
“The underside of stadium seating is concourse behind the risers, producing Planning the project took consider-
often a dark and unattractive area, an airy, high colonnade that remains able time, as every aspect of the design
cluttered with various stadium service open throughout the year, with only the was examined for optimum impact.
elements. In the new stadium, the space seating and field itself closed to access.
The finished stadium wall features large
between the perimeter ‘wall building’ “The project definitely provided a cutouts for entry points, as well as window
and the gates for the spectator seating distinct application for precast concrete bands through the top level. This upper space,
area is designed so that it would become that met this particular set of goals,” now mostly empty except for the press box,
will offer additional facilities for university
an attractive place for the university says Helmuth Wilden, president of H. functions throughout the year.
community throughout the year. By Wilden & Associates Inc., Macungie, Photo: Chuck Choi, ESTO
Some 81 different plan options, and 27 football team for practice time on one the wall building and maintain our tight
stadium typologies in three site config- field, they would lose!” schedule.”
urations, were considered and discussed Specifying precast concrete panels for
in detail with faculty, students and Precast Saves Costs the perimeter building also gave the
administrators. In part, this helped Precast concrete components were designers a way to acknowledge the
determine the best design to accommo- specified for the wall building and original stadium, which was torn down
date not only football games, but also upper seating sections for a number of to make room for the new one.
soccer, lacrosse and track events. After reasons, Lin notes. “Risers in stadiums Originally, they hoped to save at least a
considering all options, the design team today tend to be precast concrete, portion of the façade to reflect the
narrowed the field to two options, and because they make such a cost-efficient stadium’s heritage, but this proved
finally eliminated one in which choice. We also could achieve the very infeasible. “The original stadium had
retractable seating would have been customized design we desired for these been built in 1914, when reinforced-
used to provide maximum seating units in precast. We specified load- concrete technology was very primi-
requirements for each sports activity. bearing precast concrete panels for the tive,” Lin explains. “There were no
Instead, a separate track field was wall building due to the cost savings expansion joints and not enough rein-
created directly adjacent to the stadium possible. We had a lot of area to cover forcement in the concrete, so it kept
at the open end of the horseshoe. That and we thought we could use an cracking and was in a perpetual state of
shift allowed designers to create a approach more often incorporated into decline. We decided to pick up on the
stadium field measuring 395 by 245 warehouse construction. That allowed horseshoe configuration of the original
feet, one of the tightest fields that would us to skip the steel framing altogether in stadium, which worked well for the site,
accommodate football, soccer and
lacrosse. This maximized the sense of
intimacy. “The general trend with
stadiums today is to design them for
one sport only so they are more
responsive to those needs,” explains Lin.
“Designing to accommodate more
major sports creates a design in which
none of the sports really has a design
that works for it.”
Separating the track field took more
space, but it made more sense for the
activities required and provided visual
continuity from the new stadium to the
1960s gymnasium nearby, he notes.
“Everyone was happy with this decision,

This overview shows how the horseshoe-shaped stadium connects visually to the track stadium at
especially the track team. They knew its open end and further along to the 1960s gymnasium at the far right.
that if they had to fight with the Photo: Paul Warhcol Photography Inc.

while executing that design with

modern architectural and structural
Curved Panels Avoided
The building consists of a series of
parallel load-bearing panels spaced 16
feet apart supporting hollow-core
planks, supplemented by nonload-
bearing panels. The nonload-bearing
panels were insulated to reduce their
weight and make them easier to erect,
explains Harry Gleich, vice president of
engineering at Metromont Prestress Co.
in Greenville, S.C. Creating the two
curves of the horseshoe pattern proved
challenging, because none of the panels
actually curve, he adds. Each panel in
the curve, which encompasses eight
panels in all, has a faceted face to allow
Princeton University’s new stadium features several unique aspects. These include the it to connect on a slight angle. This
trapezoidal upper seating on three sides, made of precast concrete triple risers, and a perimeter
building housing all services that remains open year-round, as does the colonnade behind the produced the feeling that the pieces
seating sections. Photo: Chuck Choi, ESTO were curving while allowing them to be
This layout shows the relationship among the various structures, including the perimeter horseshoe-shaped building, the seating sections on three
sides above the field-level bowl seating, the track stadium (center) and the gymnasium (left).

cast as a series of flat facets in a single

The building, which runs 1,600 feet
long, basically consists of boxes that
were fit together, explains Gleich.


Upper floors feature a band of windows,
while other areas include angled cutouts
at stair towers and tall entry spaces to
the stadium. “These were basic compo-
nents and were pretty typical for this
construction, but there was a lot of it,
which made it more challenging,” he 17
says. In addition, parts of this building
had to be in place before the upper
grandstands could be erected, as the
building’s load-bearing panels served as The precast concrete risers making up the top portion seem to “float” over the cast-in-place bowl
supports for part of the risers. seating due to their support on cast-in-place piers and precast concrete wing beams on the
bottom and steel posts connecting to the precast concrete building panels at the top.
The panels feature a sandblasted,
exposed-aggregate finish that was configuration never before accom- risers and casting in discontinuous
selected to produce a color in keeping plished, Wilden says. They feature a openings to create vertical struts to help
with the surrounding campus buildings, teardrop shape, allowing the underside support the load arrangement. This
Lin explains. The architect made several to curve, as well as slots through the format not only cut the number of
trips to the precaster’s plant in back reinforced with galvanized pipe to casts, but saved considerably more costs
Charlotte, N.C., to discuss prototype provide additional stiffness. because the risers were erected on a per-
panels and ensure the proper color Originally the risers were planned to piece basis. Creating triple risers essen-
match. be single-tread units. This would have tially cut that expense by two-thirds.
allowed the slots to be cast as The risers’ cutout configuration
Triple Risers Proved Challenging continuous horizontal openings between consists of a 1-foot solid section, a 5-
The key challenge came in designing each unit, but would have been far foot window opening, an 8-inch solid
and erecting the triple-riser seating more costly and not as stable. Instead, brace, a 5-foot window section, a 5'4"
sections, which were produced in a Metromont proposed creating triple solid section, a 5-foot window, an 8-
The concourse under the grandstand is
designed as a light-filled public galleria for
everyday use by the campus community. This
view shows the precast concrete triple risers
forming the colonnade’s “roof.”

supports to be as light as possible to

enhance the feeling of the upper
grandstand floating between the rear
wall and the field,” Lin explains.
To achieve this, the bottom end of
the raker beams support the risers,
which consist of a single piece of precast
concrete cantilevering from the top of
two cast-in-place piers. The upper ends
of the raker beams are supported by
inverted V-shaped steel posts, which
attach to the precast concrete outer
building around the perimeter. “We
decided on the V-shaped steel posts at
the back to visually disassociate the
stands from the wall building, to make
inch brace, a 5-foot window and a final tying one seat section to the next were the upper grandstand look less obviously
1-foot solid length. Each window sized and reinforced adequately to ‘structured.’”
opening was 8 inches tall, providing a handle the horizontal shear. The test
truly unique riser design. was fully successful. “We loaded the Tight Tolerances Required
Casting these pieces proved not to be pieces to 125 percent of their carrying Matching the connection posts to
difficult once the design was set and the capabilities, at which point they their proper positions in the wall and in
forms created, Gleich notes. However, developed only a few small cracks,” the raker beam proved challenging,
galvanized pipe was set horizontally into Gleich says. “So we added a little more offering tolerances of about 1/16 inch.
the window openings to provide an reinforcing steel to boost them further “This required us to focus quality-
additional safety measure for each and started manufacturing.” control inspections at the casting plant
section. “The architect asked that no The seating sections were designed in even tighter than usual,” Gleich notes.
concrete be left on the galvanized pipe, a trapezoidal shape to add distinction The posts were attached to the raker
requiring extra attention to this and create a more-intimate feeling for beam at the point of the inverted V and
casting,” he adds. There also were tight the crowd. Once cast, connecting these hoisted into place. Once they were set,
tolerances on these pieces due to code unusually shaped risers to the lower the lower ends of the posts were spread

requirements for life safety. cast-in-place bowl to provide the as far apart as needed to meet the
The architect’s desire for high quality “floating” effect desired also proved connecting point on the precast con-
in every element of the design was challenging. “We wanted to design the crete wall, rotating the post as needed,
particularly noted in producing these
risers, Gleich notes. “The owner and
architect had high expectations for the
18 quality of the risers, and they tightened
the tolerances for these pieces to the
point that we were casting them on an
architectural level, rather than to typical
seating tolerances,” he explains. “They
both wanted these pieces to be very
precise, and we were able to work with
them to achieve this.”

Load Tests Conducted

Because this type of triple riser never
had been produced before, Metromont
and HWA conducted load tests to
ensure the risers could carry the full
design load. This also was done to
ensure the vertical support segments

The long slots between each seating row in

the precast concrete triple risers allow
daylight to stream into the concourse.
Photos: Chuck Choi, ESTO
Component List
Princeton University’s new
stadium was a challenging precast
concrete job requiring close contact
between all members of the design-
build team. The project required
1,499 piece details and 241 erec-
tion drawings, along with 198
different pieces of hardware for
connections. Some 3,611 concrete
components in all were cast. These
broke down as:
Raker support wings 16
Raker beams 60
Rectangular beams 56
Columns 26
Stairs 144
The adjoining track stadium features precast concrete seating covered with a fabric canopy Spandrels 28
held in place by cantilevered steel posts. The units are monolithic with precast concrete seating
facing the other direction to enclose the open end of the football field’s seating. Vomitory panels 12
Photo: Paul Warhcol Photography Inc. Stadia 427
and bolted into position. C&C Erectors with seats facing both sides, creating a Tubs 7
Inc. in Woodbury, N.J., performed the monolithic element that combines Solid slabs (6" & 8") 171
erection on all precast components seating for both the football and track Hollow-core 1,255
while Concrete Structures Inc. in stadiums. These were produced as solid Roof and soffit panels (5") 122
Richmond, Va., on a subcontracted risers, as there is no concourse area Inset and interior panels (6") 44
basis through Metromont, produced the connected with them. The track seats
Inset gray and inset
raker beams and wing beams. also feature a fabric canopy overhead,
architectural panels (8") 1,106
Another element that proved to be an supported by cantilevered steel struts
erection challenge was the pedestrian attached to the upper end of the precast Solid gray panels and solid
bridges that connect the upper seating raker beams. arch panels (8") 137
elements to a concourse level around The result of this unique blend of Total pieces 3,611
the building over the colonnade space. precast components and distinctive
These consist of a steel deck covered architecture is a stadium that serves as a order to provide brighter spaces beneath
with concrete sitting on two steel posts multiuse facility. Throughout the year, the seats,” he says. “But the horseshoe


that are braced against the upper end of the building is used by students, faculty building concept offers some substantial
the raker beams and the building wall, and administrators for a variety of ideas for other designers. It’s a unique
with a cable extending down from the events, keeping the space alive even element and may have more uses that
top of the raker to the middle of the when no activities are planned for the would help other stadiums, especially in
bridge for additional support. field. And all involved see additional a college-type atmosphere where seating
The seating section in the south, inspirations that this project can remains in the 30,000-seat range. It’s
open end of the stadium was designed provide. very enjoyable to go by the campus and 19
Although the corners of the horseshoe-shaped “This was one of the largest precast see the complex open all the time and
building seem to curve, the panels were in concrete projects we’ve been involved being used by the university for many
fact faceted on their faces to allow them to in,” says Lin. “It was unusual for us in functions.” ■
remain flat while making the two required that, in other building types, we often
curves. Photo: Chuck Choi, ESTO
use precast concrete only as an — Craig A. Shutt
economical cladding material. In a
stadium, where much of its architecture
tends to be about its structure, the use
of precast concrete allows the structural Additional details and diagrams on
elements to be designed and built with this project are available in the
architectural care in an economical May/June 1999 issue of the PCI
manner. This project gave us an JOURNAL. To purchase a copy,
opportunity to achieve this rare and contact PCI, 175 W. Jackson
satisfying combination where architec- Blvd., #1859, Chicago IL 60604;
ture and structure became one. It’s a 312/786-0300; fax: 312/786-0353.
good way to design a stadium project.” Or visit PCI’s website at
Wilden agrees. “The seating design, where the complete
may be more expensive than most article will be uploaded.
stadium developers would want to use in
EAST Precast Stadium Construction
Name Location Precaster Across the country, designers are using more and
more precast concrete components to create stadiums
Altoona Ballpark Altoona, Pa. New Enterprise Stone &
and indoor arenas of all shapes and sizes. Riser
Lime Co., Inc. sections, especially economical triple risers, comprise
The Apollo of Philadelphia New Enterprise Stone & a key ingredient, becoming the seating format of
Temple Univ. Lime Co., Inc. choice for many designers. It offers cost savings and
design advantages that are hard to beat. But other
Baltimore Ravens Stadium Baltimore The Shockey Precast
precast components also are gaining more adherents.
Group & High Concrete
Designers also are using other structural components
Structures, Inc.
and architectural precast concrete panels for cladding
Byrd Stadium College Park, Md. The Shockey Precast Group in stadiums.
Civic Arena Renovation Pittsburgh Sidley Precast, Inc. Here is a cross-section of recent stadium and arena
projects completed around the country by PCI
Corestates Center Philadelphia The Shockey Precast Group members. The list indicates how extensively precast
Erie Stadium Erie, Pa. Sidley Precast, Inc. concrete components are being used as the solution
of choice for these projects.
Marine Midland Arena Buffalo, N.Y. Sidley Precast, Inc.
Marshall Univ.’s Huntington, W.Va. Marietta Structures Corp.
Henderson Center
MCI Center Washington, D.C. The Shockey Precast Group
North Eastern Civic Arena Wilkes-Barre, Pa. High Concrete WEST
Structures, Inc. Name Location Precaster
Orioles Park Baltimore The Shockey Precast Group Bank One Ball Park Phoenix TPAC—A Division of
at Camden Yards Kiewit Western Co.
Princeton Univ. Stadium Princeton, N.J. Metromont Prestress Co. Boise State Univ. Stadium Boise, Idaho Eagle Precast Co.
Penn State Convocation & University Park, Pa. New Enterprise Stone & Bruce Huast Stadium St. George, Utah Eagle Precast Co.
Events Center Lime Co., Inc.
Centennial Garden Arena Bakersfield, Calif. PCL Construction Services
PSINet Stadium Baltimore The Shockey Precast Group
Delta Center Salt Lake City Eagle Precast Co.
Redskins Stadium Washington, D.C. Metromont Prestress Co.
“E” Center West Valley City, Utah Eagle Precast Co.
RFK Stadium Washington, D.C. The Shockey Precast Group
Eagle County Fairgrounds Eagle, Colo. Eagle Precast Co.
The Sandcastle Atlantic City, N.J. Universal Concrete
Products Corp. Frontier Days Grandstand Cheyenne, Wyo. Eagle Precast Co.
Three Rivers Pittsburgh Sidley Precast, Inc. Garden of Champions Indian Wells, Calif. Clark Pacific
Stadium Addition Golden Spike Arena Ogden, Utah Eagle Precast Co.
Univ. of Va. Scott Charlottesville, Va. The Shockey Precast Group Hass Pavilion Berkeley, Calif. Willis Construction Co., Inc.
Stadium Addition Mountain State Univ. Bozeman, Mont. Central Pre-Mix
Stadium Prestress Co.
Murray Ice Center Murray, Utah Eagle Precast Co.
Oakland Alameda County Oakland, Calif. Willis Construction Co., Inc.
Coliseum & Stadium
Ogden Baseball Stadium Ogden, Utah Eagle Precast Co.
Pacific Bell Park San Francisco Willis Construction Co., Inc.
Peoria Spring Peoria, Ariz. TPAC—A Division of
Training Facility Kiewit Western Co.
Qualcomm Stadium at Jack San Diego Coreslab Structures (LA)
Murphy Field Expansion Inc.
Spokane Arena Spokane, Wash. Central Pre-Mix
Prestress Co.
Staples Center Los Angeles PCL Construction Services
Weber State Ice Rink Ogden, Utah Eagle Precast Co.
Name Location Precaster
SOUTH Bradley Center Milwaukee Spancrete Industries, Inc.
Name Location Precaster Cafaro Field Youngstown, Ohio Sidley Precast, Inc.
Alltel Arena Little Rock, Ark. Metromont Prestress Co. Canal View Park Stadium Akron, Ohio Sidley Precast, Inc.
Ballpark at Union Station Houston Heldenfels Enterprises, Inc. Cleveland Browns Stadium Cleveland Sidley Precast, Inc.
Ben Hill Griffin Stadium Gainesville, Fla. Dura-Stress, Inc. Greenbeck Field House Schofield, Wis. Spancrete Industries, Inc.
Bilo Center Greenville, S.C. Metromont Prestress Co. Gund Arena at Gateway Cleveland Sidley Precast, Inc.
Broward County Sunrise, Fla. Gate Precast Co. Indiana Fieldhouse Indianapolis American Precast Concrete, Inc.
Civic Arena
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Indianapolis American Precast Concrete, Inc.
Bryant-Denny Stadium Tuscaloosa, Ala. Metromont Prestress Co.
Jacob’s Field Cleveland Sidley Precast, Inc.
Carolina Panthers Stadium Charlotte, N.C. Metromont Prestress Co.
Kohl Arena Madison, Wis. J.W. Peters & Sons, Inc.
Charlotte Coliseum Charlotte, N.C. The Shockey Precast Group
Kohl Center Madison, Wis. Spancrete Industries, Inc.
Charlotte Motor Speedway Charlotte, N.C. The Shockey Precast Group
Lambeau Field Renovation Green Bay, Wis. Spancrete Industries, Inc.
Chattanooga Stadium Chattanooga, Tenn. Metromont Prestress Co.
Louisville Slugger Field Louisville, Ky. American Precast Concrete, Inc.
Clemson Univ. Stadium Clemson, S.C. The Shockey Precast Group
Memorial Stadium Ft. Wayne, Ind. American Precast Concrete, Inc.
Cumberland Coliseum Fayetteville, N.C. The Shockey Precast Group
Donald W. Reynolds Arena Tulsa, Okla. Tulsa Dynaspan, Inc. Miller Park Milwaukee Spancrete Industries, Inc.
& Convention Center at Nationwide Arena Columbus, Ohio Sidley Precast, Inc.
University of Tulsa
North Central College Stadium Naperville, Ill. DuKane Precast, Inc.
Dowdy Ficklen Stadium Greenville, N.C. Metromont Prestress Co.
Northwestern Univ. Evanston, Ill. Spancrete Industries, Inc.
East Carolina Greenville, N.C. The Shockey Precast Group Nicolet Football Center
University Stadium
Ohio State Univ. Baseball Stadium Columbus, Ohio Concrete Technology, Inc.
Entertainment Raleigh, N.C. Metromont Prestress Co.
& Sports Arena Paul Brown Stadium Cincinnati Metromont Prestress Co.
Ericsson Stadium Charlotte, N.C. The Shockey Precast Group Perry Stadium Renovation Bowling Green, Ohio Sidley Precast, Inc.

Gatorbowl Jacksonville, Fla. Metromont Prestress Co. Pettit Ice Center Milwaukee Spancrete Industries, Inc.
Physical Education Center at Kenosha, Wis. Spancrete Industries, Inc.
Hawks Arena Atlanta Metromont Prestress Co.
the Univ. of Wisconsin-Parkside
Kyle Field at College Station, Texas Heldenfels Enterprises, Inc.
Rose Hulman Institute Terre Haute, Ind. American Precast Concrete, Inc.
Texas A&M Univ.
Legends Field Tampa, Fla. Coreslab Structures Schottenstein Arena Columbus, Ohio Sidley Precast, Inc.
(TAMPA) Inc. Seymour High School Seymour, Wis. Spancrete Industries, Inc.
Olympic Stadium Atlanta Metromont Prestress Co. Training Center
Olympic Tennis Stadium Stone Mountain, Ga. Metromont Prestress Co. Shawano Grandstand Shawano, Wis. Spancrete Industries, Inc.
Raymond James Stadium Tampa, Fla. Coreslab Structures Stambaugh Stadium Addition Youngstown, Ohio Sidley Precast, Inc.
(TAMPA) Inc. Sturgeon Bay Grandstand Sturgeon Bay, Wis. Spancrete Industries, Inc.
RDV Sportsplex Orlando, Fla. Dura-Stress, Inc. Univ. of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, Ill. American Precast Concrete, Inc.
Space Coast Stadium Brevard County, Fla. Dura-Stress, Inc. Memorial Stadium
Univ. of Louisville Louisville, Ky. American Precast Concrete, Inc.
Tennessee Titans Stadium Nashville, Tenn. Metromont Prestress Co.
Cardinal Stadium
The Ballpark At Arlington Arlington, Texas Coreslab Structures
Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln Lincoln, Neb. Kroeger Precast Concrete,
(TEXAS) Inc.
Memorial Stadium Inc.
The Ice Palace Tampa, Fla. Coreslab Structures University of Notre Dame South Bend, Ind. Prestress Services, Inc.
(TAMPA) Inc.
Football Stadium Expansion
The Pyramid Memphis, Tenn. American Precast Concrete, Inc. Victory Field Indianapolis American Precast Concrete, Inc.
Turner Stadium Atlanta Metromont Prestress Co. Wisconsin Center at Univ. Madison, Wis. Spancrete Industries, Inc.
Williams Brice Stadium Columbia, S.C. Metromont Prestress Co. of Wisconsin-Madison
Wofford College Stadium Spartanburg, S.C. Metromont Prestress Co. Xavier Convocation Center Cincinnati American Precast Concrete, Inc.