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LA’s SoFi Stadium sets a new standardwith massive roof and video display

February 1st, 2021 / By: / Feature

The 46 lower mesh panels were partially printed with graphics prior to cutting and welding, which required that the graphics align vertically across welded seams and horizontally across the aluminum frame members. Photo: Celina Tent.

Featuring the world’s largest cable net roof and the world’s largest LED content playback system, SoFi Stadium, the new home for the NFL’s Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams, is “as majestic as it is revolutionary,” according to ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez. 

FabriTec Structures LLC, Dallas, Texas, was contracted in a design-assist role with the project consultants in developing a technically and commercially viable cable net roof structure and ETFE cladding system, as well as overall project budget, schedule and coordinated logistics plan. 

Designed by architecture studio HKS, with assistance from structural engineering firm Walter P Moore, the stadium is built with an arching steel truss compression ring supporting a double grid cable net roof covered with translucent ETFE and surrounded with perforated aluminum panels. The roof is comprised of 302 ETFE panels, including 46 mechanized vents that allow the heat generated by more than 70,000 spectators to dissipate. The roof consists of more than 1,400 tons of double orthogonal grid steel and approximately 67,000 tons of ETFE membrane, secondary steel, gutters, cross clamps, cable struts and retractable vents. 

Constructing the largest cable net roof ever built for a stadium, one that free spans more than 1,000 feet longitudinally and 800 feet tangentially, requires one of the heaviest cable structures and subsequently one of the highest cable pinning forces ever attempted at approximately 2,000 kips. Photo: Gary Taylor/FabriTec Structures LLC.

Suspended from the roof of the stadium, the Oculus is a 4K end-to-end video board spanning 120 yards, weighing 2.2 million pounds and covering 70,000 square feet. Celina Industries, a division of Celina Tent, of Celina, Ohio, produced 232 panels for Tribal Scenery Inc. and Facid North America to cover areas of the Oculus frame for aesthetic purposes. No two panels were the same. Working from 3D models of the Oculus rigid aluminum frame, Celina’s engineering team used MPanel 3D form-finding software to transform the rigid frame into a tensioned black mesh skin.

The panels, utilizing mesh from Snyder Manufacturing, were made up of 1,160 individual pieces welded together using hot air welders on 928 seams that averaged 10 feet in length. The seams all needed to match up with adjacent panels. Celina accomplished this with only two of the 232 panels getting to the field and needing to be adjusted due to dimensional form fit and function issues.