All of Chuck Hoberman's work is about transformation, which is why Bill Johnson, the New Atlanta Stadium's architect, was so eager to have him on his team when vying for the stadium job.
"Chuck helped us craft an approach that eliminated the rotation we had in our first concept," says Johnson, a senior principal with 360 Architecture.
Hoberman's multidisciplinary practice specializes in the development of products, structures and environments that change size and shape, including kinetic art and architecture. He is perhaps best known as the inventor of a series of transformable toys, known as Hoberman Spheres.
"Bill was drawing things that looked like apertures and pinwheels. He didn't want another table on wheels that slid back and forth," says Hoberman, who founded Hoberman Associates Inc. in 1990.
Hoberman had never worked on a movable stadium roof. Still, he has experience with movable apertures, including a screen for the band U2's "360 Tour" in 2009. His experience taught him about the mechanical advantages of sliding over spinning. Sliding allows support from a number of points and spinning from only one. "Everything we're asking [the stadium panels] to do is precedented," says Hoberman.
Johnson met Hoberman through the Atlanta stadium's structural engineer, Buro Happold Consulting Engineers PC. BH and Hoberman were well known to each other through their Adaptive Building Initiative, formed in 2008 and co-led by Craig Schwitter, BH principal.
ABI designs buildings that optimize their configuration in real time by responding to environmental changes. The goal is to achieve energy savings and enhanced environments within the context of advanced sustainable strategies. These include dynamic facades and envelopes.
The Falcons stadium job represents a big jump in scale for Hoberman. "It was worth going through the creative process, but I didn't expect to win," he says. "We're important [to the mechanization process] in terms of making sure the real DNA of the design intent is realized."