Syracuse University Carrier Dome Roof Replacement

Syracuse, N.Y.


OWNER: Syracuse University

LEAD DESIGN FIRM: Geiger Engineers




STEEL ERECTOR: Midwest Steel

After hosting numerous memorable sporting events during its 40-year history, the Carrier Dome achieved a landmark of its own with the replacement of its original air-supported roof—the last of its kind in the U.S. In its place is a new cable-stayed roof structure, suspended from a “crown truss” compression ring.

Reducing the building’s energy use was the main project driver, eliminating the need to continuously maintain the interior’s air pressure with large blower fans so the roof would stay inflated. Except for a 100,000-sq-ft section of single-membrane material for daylighting, the roof structure is highly thermally insulated to further reduce energy costs.

Syracuse University

Photo courtesy The Hayner Hoyt Corp.

Because the Carrier Dome was never meant to support a roof this heavy, the precision design uses a two-way cable truss to take advantage of the original configuration without putting undo stress on the supporting structure. This approach also allowed the facility to continue hosting games and other events until the original roof needed to be deflated.

The project’s complexities required a fluid design at the start of construction to make adjustments based on actual field conditions, says the team. At the steel fabricator in Canada, each piece of the crown was scanned and tested prior to shipment to minimize error and provide the team with precise measurements. Another round of testing and layout at the jobsite helped ensure a proper configuration and fit before components were hoisted into place. Even a 1/8-in. deviation would have complicated the process.

Syracuse University

Photo courtesy The Hayner Hoyt Corp.

COVID-19 produced additional hurdles, impacting material deliveries and requiring new worker safety protocols. The project team also had to continually synchronize operations of multiple cranes to prevent collisions and safeguard pedestrians and adjacent buildings. 

Syracuse University

Photo courtesy The Hayner Hoyt Corp.

Along with having the new roof ready for the first home game of the 2020 Syracuse football season, the project included new elements such as sports lighting and sound systems, center-hung scoreboard, concessions renovations, numerous restrooms, and arena signage, as well as graphics updates and a complete remodel of the visitor locker room.