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New retractable roof unveiled at Arthur Ashe Stadium

The USTA has officially unveiled the new fully-operational retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, home of the US Open.

The roof officially closed and opened for the first time during a ceremony which featured executives from the USTA and ROSSETTI, as well as media and several tennis luminaries.

The retractable roof, featuring two panels sitting atop a 6,500 ton steel superstructure, is covered with a PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) fabric that is stretched over the framing system, and which allows the sun to reflect off of the panels, making the Stadium more energy efficient.

Moving at a top speed of 25-feet-per-minute, the roof will be able to be closed or opened in under seven minutes.

The completion of Arthur Ashe Stadium’s retractable roof is only one component in the major transformation of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

This year, fans also will experience a brand new Grandstand Stadium and an expanded and enhanced southern campus.

The new Grandstand will feature 8,125 seats – an addition of more than 2,000 seats over the capacity of the old Grandstand – while still giving spectators one of the most intimate viewing experiences in professional tennis.

In addition, the southern campus has been completely overhauled to ease congestion, provide expanded fan amenities, and enhance visitors’ overall US Open experience.

The roof was closed and opened during the ceremony by tennis legend Billie Jean King and Jeanne Ashe, wife of the late champion for whom the Stadium is named, who joined USTA Chairman of the Board and President, Katrina Adams; USTA Executive Director, Gordon Smith; USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center COO, Danny Zausner; and ROSSETTI President, Matt Rossetti.

Matt Rossetti said:

The design and construction of the retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium is like a dream come true for Rossetti. We were so passionate about finding a solution, that we worked for two years on our own to overcome the enormous challenges and meet the USTA’s criteria of aesthetics, functionality, cost and design integrity. We’re very grateful for the opportunity to be involved with this project, and to work with such a visionary client.

The USTA had to take a risk no matter which way they chose to move. The risk to do nothing or to act in an incremental way could have been a detriment to the US Open. The risk to reimagine the site into a sports spectacle meant expanding the footprint of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and renovating 85% of the site, which was a complex and costly effort. From where we stand today, the risk has paid off. We’ve been able to leverage design to secure the US Open’s success as a defining sports and entertainment event.

Of the decision to add the roof onto Arthur Ashe Stadium,  ROSSETTI advised that was purely for the benefit of the fan experience and the quality of the sport:

The list of challenges was daunting, so we never thought of it in terms of an economic payback.

The Stadium wasn’t originally designed to handle the load of a roof, so we had to design it as a free-standing structure. You could build a Manhattan skyscraper on the foundations, the pilings are so deep and the structure is coded for hurricane-strength weather. It’s the first roof of its kind at this scale. In addition to all of that, it had to be designed within budget and blend with the aesthetics of the Stadium. It took two years of R+D on our own to prove that our idea was viable and met all of the criteria.

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