HNTB, in collaboration with local partner Ross Tarrant Architects, served as Sports Design Architect for the transformation of Kroger Field, formerly Commonwealth Stadium, on the campus of the University of Kentucky.
The trend within college football is to make stadiums bigger and increase capacity. In contrast to that trend, a primary goal for this project was to increase the stadium’s intimacy and provide competitive advantages for the UK football program by reducing capacity from 67,000 to 61,000 seats, making it smaller, louder, and friendlier by bringing fans closer to the action. The project is being phased over two years without interruptions to events.
Part of the project includes a complete rebranding and modernization of both the exterior and interior of the stadium. A new cohesive and dynamic exterior façade was designed to create this transformation, providing a memorable distinct look above any other stadium in the SEC. The massing, materials, proportions, and scale of the new exterior design have been carefully developed to strengthen the connection and complement the surrounding campus architecture. The stadium’s site design will connect all athletic venues and surrounding campus buildings through a combination of landscaped plazas, pedestrian malls, and green space.
Additional program elements include surgical replacement of portions of the existing seating bowl to create three new outdoor club seating areas with uniquely branded club lounges (Field Level Club, Woodford Reserve Club, and Loge Club). A new multi-level structure is also added, containing new suites, two outdoor patio decks, and press/gameday operations boxes. A new recruiting/multi‐purpose room with an outdoor patio and views to the stadium integrate with a new student‐only and marching band seating section at the end zone. A new home team locker room, coaches’ lockers, equipment room, taping room, and media/interview room are also implemented. A future Nike Team Store is also planned.
The delivery of early design packages on a complex stadium project means changes are inevitable, so managing the process is critical. For the project, our team delivered construction documents as four separate Design Releases (DR). DR#1 was a structural steel package, which was issued six months prior to the final design being issued for bid.
To manage the design process and changes in construction costs that typically arise from delivering early packages, the design team, in cooperation with the CM (Skanska-Congleton Hacker), developed a unit price schedule in the bid documents to establish pricing for the different categories of structural framing. The unit price schedule included the structural engineer’s tonnage estimates (derived from the working BIM model) that the bidders were to use in their initial bids. This approach gave the owner a baseline cost and established unit prices from which to execute change orders with the selected steel contractor.
In addition, our team created a clearly scoped steel matrix, which was part of the specification. This matrix outlined when the selected steel contractor would get updated drawings (based on future design releases), and how these updated drawings were to be used for the mill order, for steel connection design, and for steel detailing.