It does not happen often that a project you have worked on is seen internationally. But on Sunday at 4:30 pm, Soldier Field will be the backdrop of the playoff game between the Chicago Bears and the Carolina Panthers. It will be my first time seeing it on television here in Montreal. Here are a couple before and after photos of the project.
Along with probably thousands of others, I take pride in calling Soldier Field mine. I spent four years working on the project, three in the office and one on site during construction. From the wild initial designs to the inevitable problems that come up in the field. The project was special for me on many levels. I have been a Bears fan all my life having gone to games since I was a kid. My father and I went to a few January playoff games long ago where I spent half the game thawing out in the bathrooms. I am fiercely proud to be a Chicagoan and this project is at a prominent location on the lakefront. Lastly, I worked with friends who I had gone to school with or lived with. It is easier to work out difficult problems when you know the other people well.
At Thornton Tomasetti's Chicago office, we designed the structure for the project: foundations, steel structure (beams & columns), and the floor slabs. The building is a partially-assymetrical design with some very interesting aspects (at least structurally). Each of the scoreboards is cantilevered 150 feet over existing stands. The west grandstand cantilevers 60 feet over the existing colonnade. Due to the nature of people being present in the grandstand, special measures needed to be taken. Devices called tuned mass dampers were installed at the tips in order to counter act the destructive rhythm caused by people jumping in sync.
But another thing that is really cool about having worked on a project this large and this visible is all the paraphenalia. Magazine articles, t-shirts, baseball caps, scale models, postcards, and posters are just some of the items with it's likeness. Now I'm not obsessively hoarding every item I can get my hands on, but I do have enough to show my pride.