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NFL Dolphins celebrate topping-out their New Miami Stadium

A topping out ceremony was held Friday, July 29, at the New Miami Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, USA, to celebrate the completion of the steel structure of a new shade canopy at the multi-purpose facility.

The National Football League’s (NFL) Miami Dolphins selected HOK to design a phased renovation of the 29-year-old stadium. The US$450m modernisation aims to offer fans a world-class experience, while providing the city with a venue to host marquee events. The NFL recently announced that the stadium will host Super Bowl LIV in 2020.

The 626,000sqft, long-span, cable-supported canopy is part of the second phase of renovations at the stadium, for which Thornton Tomasetti is providing structural, façade and construction engineering services to South Florida Stadium LLC. Designed by architect HOK, this phase of modernisations also adds four 50ft x 112ft, high-definition screens, one at each of the stadium’s corners. Phase one — completed in 2015 — for which Thornton Tomasetti also served as structural engineer, added a new lower bowl to the sidelines, replaced all seats and rebuilt the concourses at the 100 and 300 levels. The third phase of the project will renovate suites and clubs on the 200C and 200M concourse levels, as well as redevelop plazas and parking areas.

The stadium is home to the NFL’s Miami Dolphins and the University of Miami Hurricanes football teams. In addition to hosting the annual Orange Bowl college football game, it has seen five Super Bowls, the 2010 Pro Bowl, two World Series, as well as various other sports and entertainment events. The facility has had several names over the years (most recently Sun Life Stadium), and will be renamed after its new sponsor, to be announced later this year.

Hunt Construction Group Vice President Pat Delano (from left), Miami Dolphins President & Chief Executive Officer Tom Garfinkel, Dolphins Chairman of the Board/Managing General Partner Stephen Ross, Thornton Tomasetti Chairman & CEO Tom Scarangello, and Bill Senn, Dolphins Senior Vice President of Stadium Renovations. Image: Thornton Tomasetti.

Designed to withstand Category 4 hurricane winds, the canopy is completely independent from the existing stadium construction. This minimised the need for retrofits to the older structure and allowed the work to be phased to accommodate the 2015 sports season. Thornton Tomasetti’s façade engineers designed the 95,200sqft translucent ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) section of the canopy, which blocks rain and direct sun from the seating bowl, while letting in abundant light. Eight concrete mega-columns, two at each corner, were tucked close to the stadium walls. Steel masts rise between each pair of columns, which support and stabilise long steel trusses that span high above the inner and outer edges of the seating bowl.

The final steel beam was installed at the top chord of one of the four bow trusses atop the shade canopy. Image: Thornton Tomasetti.

Thornton Tomasetti also performed Tekla modelling and connection design, which allowed for early material procurement, a crucial factor in meeting an aggressive schedule. The stadium will reopen on September 1, 2016, for the Dolphin’s last preseason game and follow up with Hurricanes’ and Dolphins’ season opener games.


Main image (top): An aerial photo of the stadium two days before the topping out ceremony. Image: Hunt Construction Group.


Project stats

The modernisation of the Dolphins’ stadium offers fans a world-class experience and provides the city with a venue to host marquee events.

HOK collaborated with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins to develop a comprehensive design solution for the US$350m modernisation of the team’s existing stadium. To ensure that the Dolphins don’t miss any home games, the extensive renovations are being completed in three phases.

In 2015, every seat in the 29-year-old facility was replaced and innovative seating products were introduced. Seating options of varying price points now accommodate all fans, from corporate clients to families and millennials. Updates to the 100 and 300 Level concourses include modern food service offerings and amenities. The renovations also added a Field Club, North Sideline Club and corner terraces.

Innovative new Living Room boxes meld the home viewing and game-day experiences. To provide fans with the comforts of home, each of the 32 boxes include four individual recliners, up to four programmable high-definition TVs and access to the 72 Club, a unique indoor lounge.

The design reinforces Miami’s culture and heritage by incorporating murals by local artists, a comprehensive wayfinding and branding package, local materials and experiential design components. Each club, suite, social gathering and dining space provides fans with a splash of South Florida.

In 2016, a new, open-air canopy will become the stadium’s signature architectural element. The elegant canopy will provide weather protection and sun shading, while allowing ample sunlight to reach the natural grass field. This canopy will also capture and amplify crowd noise, enhancing the game-day experience. Other improvements will include 22,400sqft of new high-definition video boards, a new audio system and fibre-optic Wi-Fi.

The 2017 renovations will include comprehensive updates to all existing premium spaces on the 200 Club and 200 Mezzanine Suite Levels. Two distinct new designs for the sideline suites and end zone suites will be introduced. Designed in collaboration with Rockwell Group, the club interiors will be refreshed to support the team’s approach to the fan experience.

When fully complete in 2017, the modernisation will connect to the Dolphins’ brand in an environment that is authentic to the region.


HOK is an Event Sponsor for our upcoming Stadia & Arena Asia Pacific 2016 conference and exhibition being held at the Yokohama Arena in Japan this September, 26-28.

HOK’s Director of Sports + Recreation + Entertainment will be speaking about the successful HOK + TAC Arquitectes design for the new Palau Blaugrana for FC Barcelona, while HOK’s Vice President of Global Sport Development, Chris Lamberth, will be taking part in a roundtable discussing the ‘Key considerations for cities regarding their future venue plans’.


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