A jam-packed Citi Field – the new home of the New York Mets – is a heavy place. After all, that adds up to 45,000 baseball fans cheering atop more than 12,000 tons of structural steel, along with the 1-million-plus bricks enclosing the 1.4-million-sq-ft ballpark in Queens.

Citi Field-Queens, N.Y.

It’s not the kind of facility that typically sits atop soft, fill-based soils. But the $800-million-plus Citi Field is built over meadows with virtually no rock beneath.

“There’s no bottom, essentially,” says Scott Hamburg, senior project manager for Bovis Lend Lease, half of the construction manager joint venture with Hunt Construction Group. The solution was to drill down 110 ft on average to install 2,800 monotube tapered tip piles, which will hold the foundation slab even as the soils eventually settle by as much as 1 ft.

The soft ground also forced design modifications, such as six building expansion joints that affected the structure, interior finishes, and façade, as well as a sliding joint system to account for seismic and thermal conditions.

While the foundation was among the toughest curveballs the team faced, it was far from the only challenge in a project that also called for extensive backfilling, unique cantilevers, and a worksite right alongside the facility it would replace, Shea Stadium, home of the 1969 and 1986 world champs, not to mention historic concerts for The Beatles, The Who and The Clash concerts.

The end result that the Best of 2009 jury applauded with Project of the Year honors is a stadium that features contoured seating offering 360 degree views of the field and wide sightlines from many angles, as well as fan amenities, including 54 luxury suites on two levels, six restaurants and clubs, and a brick and limestone-themed exterior evoking Ebbets Field, former home of the Brooklyn Dodgers. It also features the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, a plaza at the stadium’s entrance honoring the Dodger Hall of Famer and first black to play in the major leagues.

Some structural highlights support architectural flourishes, such as a 1,284-seat porch that extends 8 ft over fair territory in right field and incorporates the foul pole. And concrete is a big element throughout, from the exterior façade’s precast panels and arches to a main curving stair in the rotunda. The stadium uses 81,000 cu yd of poured-in-place concrete, 5,035 tons of rebar, and 3,311 precast pieces.

And the schedule was high and tight – the team had to finish the stadium begun in late 2006 by March 2009. Hamburg says that made fall 2008 the real deadline to finish major construction, because the team had to clear the field – the main staging area for materials, cranes, and crews – in order to plant sod in time for the grass to develop roots before winter.

Key Players

Owner: Queens Ballpark Co. (New York Mets Baseball Club)
Contractor: Hunt/Bovis Lend Lease Alliance II - Hunt Construction Group and Bovis Lend Lease
Architect: Populous
Structural Engineer: WSP Cantor Seinuk Group
Mechanical Engineer: ME Engineers
Civil Engineering: DMJM Harris
Geotechnical-Foundation Engineer: Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers