Construction on the University of Houston’s new football stadium is now underway. Design firms PageSoutherlandPage and DLR Group, as well as contractor Manhattan Construction and university staffers celebrated the project’s groundbreaking February 8 near downtown Houston.

Photo courtesy of PageSoutherlandPage
The University of Houston hosted the groundbreaking of its new stadium February 8. Shown from left to right: Jonathan Thurston, Executive Director of UH Facilities Planning & Construction; Matt Doffing, Manhattan Construction; Duane Duffy, Manhattan Construction; David Quenemoen, PageSoutherlandPage; Rob Owens, PageSoutherlandPage; Don Barnum, DLR Group; Greg Garlock, DLR Group; Tony Levine, UH Football Coach; Mack Rhoades, UH Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics; Dr. Renu Khator, Chancellor of the University of Houston System; Nelda Luce Blair, Chairman, UH System Board of Regents; and Jeffrey Bricker, PageSoutherlandPage.
Rendering courtesy of PageSoutherlandPage and DLR Group
A rendering of the completed University of Houston football stadium, which will be complete in August 2014.

The new facility will feature 40,000 seats, expandable to 60,000 in the future, and a specially coated corrugated metal exterior skin, with an opening on the stadium’s northwest side that will showcase the downtown Houston skyline.

“Final approval of the $105 million project budget is up to the UH System Board of Regents and we expect that to be approved at one of their upcoming meetings in March or May. We expect the budget to remain at the $105 million mark,” says David Bassity, UH assistant athletics director for communications.

The project includes included the strategic placement and installation of foundations in the current phase to accommodate future expansion.

A “construction manager-at-risk” delivery method was selected shortly after selection of the design team, says Rob Owens, vice president of PageSoutherlandPage and project manager for the stadium project.

“The schedule will be a notable challenge. From design team start on program verification in June 2012 to the first football game in the new stadium in August 2014 is just 26.5 months. This period includes the demolition of the existing stadium, which could not happen until after the last game at the end of November 2012,” Owens says. “This schedule is addressed through the use of sequential early release bid and award packages: one, demolition; two, deep utilities, foundations and earthwork; and three, all structural, precast seating riser/treads, synthetic field and performance specified metal cage enclosure.”

Access to the site will also be restricted by ongoing construction of a new light rail line on either side of the stadium site, with no construction access street on the third side, as well as an existing parking garage between the site and street on the majority of the fourth side, Owens says. “Utility access is also constrained by the rail right of way and existing parking garage,” he adds.

Bart Miller, structural engineer with Walter P Moore, adds that the fact that the project is being constructed on the same site as the previous stadium will make things a bit trickier.

“To further complicate matters, the new stadium is centered almost directly on the old stadium position, but is rotated approximately 30 degrees and lowers the playing surface by 12 feet from the previous field elevation,” he says. “Conflicts with existing stadium foundations, utilities and abandoned dewatering system components must be addressed across the site.

“During the design phase, the design team collected foundation plans and sections and geotechnical reports from all previous work at the site, combined them into a single plan view, and then overlaid the new stadium foundation locations in order to better understand the magnitude of the conflicts to be expected and to begin to postulate solutions,” Miller says. “During construction, designers are working closely with the builders to develop specific and unique solutions for each conflict that are efficient, constructible, and will not delay the already demanding construction schedule.”

The stadium is expected to be complete by August 2014.