Replacing an Icon
Planned simultaneously with Comerica Park – home of Major League Baseball’s Detroit Tigers – Ford Field opened in 2002 as part of a public project to replace both Tiger Stadium and the Pontiac Silverdome. While the new stadium features many modern design elements, one unique aspect of this $500 million project was the rehabilitation and integration of the J. L. Hudson Company warehouse, which had operated continuously from 1913 to 1995.
Renovated with brick-clad precast panels insulated with Thermomass System NC insulation, the historic facility was converted into 230,000 square feet of Class A commercial office rental space, an elegant seven-story atrium, a press box, restaurants and food courts, and lounges and luxury suites that overlook the playing field.
Connecting the new warehouse space to the stadium’s southwest corner, a four-story glass and steel atrium invites natural light in while providing a picturesque view of the Detroit skyline.
Insulated Precast Benefits
During the project’s schematic design stage, architectural teams at Rossetti Architects and SmithGroup decided that precast concrete would be the most effective way to blend the new stadium with the existing nearby structures, while reducing both construction time and costs.
The exterior architectural brick-clad precast panels – produced by National Precast of Roseville, Michigan – included over a million individual bricks and two inches of Thermomass System NC insulation. The use of the insulated, brick-clad panels enabled designers to eliminate the need for any interior finishing and provided a durable, maintenance-free interior and exterior.
Cost management and speed of construction were also critical. The exterior architectural precast panels served as cladding to a cast-in-place (CIP) concrete structural interior frame, which was designed as its own load-bearing system. Vertical precast members served as main supports for adjoining horizontal precast panels. Since the exterior precast system was self-supporting, with gravity loads transferred only to concrete foundations below, there was no need for a more complicated CIP concrete design with brackets and corbel supports. This enabled the designers to minimize required loads and ultimately reduced the amount of reinforcing in the structure.
The contractor, with this more simplified design, was able to proceed with casting in the field at the same time the precast system was in the final design and casting stages. This provided a huge boost to minimizing the overall construction schedule.
Nearly 15 years after its completion, Ford Field is still routinely named one of the top venues in the National Football League, and the renovated Hudson warehouse space has become home to some of the city’s most distinguished organizations. The entire facility will long stand as a Detroit landmark as well as one of the most impressive projects in the Thermomass portfolio.