Since breaking ground on May 19, 2014, incredible progress has been made on the new Atlanta stadium. Staying on schedule to successfully open in March of 2017 requires intense focus, organization and teamwork according to Bill Darden, president of Darden & Company, the developer's representative firm overseeing all of the design and construction activity on the new stadium project.
Representatives from the stadium project team, from contractors to designers, assemble for a five hour meeting every Tuesday to review a work schedule that can be up to 90 pages long. These meetings ensure that all of the unique disciplines are communicating, working in conjunction with each other, and performing on schedule.
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"I think we've made tremendous progress," Darden said, "In spite of the cold and rain — I am incredibly impressed by the work ethic and attitude of our team over the past year."
The construction team has successfully hit several major milestones since the stadium groundbreaking last year. The first pour of concrete is completed in concourses one through three, the concrete making up the base of the structure ("slab on grade") has been poured and the first of the raker beams and stadia seating, which will eventually house the stadium seats, has been installed.
The first installation of masonry walls was completed in April, and as the vertical structure is erected, additional masonry walls will begin to form the horizontal walkways and the many different rooms that will make up the stadium.
Installation of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems (MEPs) such as water lines and electrical wiring began in 2014. The architectural precast panels that enclose the exterior walls will continue to be erected throughout 2015.
According to Darden, the construction atmosphere remains positive regardless of the weather conditions.
"For all of the hardwork and difficulties of such a complex project," Darden said, "I'm proud of the upbeat attitude of our workforce."
As the stadium construction continues at a rapid pace, Darden is especially excited about one aspect of construction coming into play this year.
"Steel, steel, steel and steel," Darden said, "That's our critical path — everything revolves around the steel — I can't emphasize that enough."
With the earthwork and foundations completed, work taking place over the next year focuses much more on the framework that makes up the skeletal structure of the stadium.
The first of the mega-columns, which will support the weight of the structure along with the roof, will be topped out in May. One of these mega-columns will be wrapped in LED boards on three sides as seen in the images of the "window to the city" in the stadium fly-through video.
Glass, metal panels and ETFE fabric, which is visually similar to glass, will create the exterior skin that will keep rain and other harsh weather out. The first sections of ETFE and enclosure will be installed later this year.
Along with these elements, the first of the drywall will be hung and the first of the solar panels will be operational by the end of 2015.
By the spring of 2016, the stadium will look dramatically different. With less than two years until opening, the structure is beginning to take shape and resemble the awe-inspiring renderings we've seen of the completed stadium.
"It will take your breath away," Darden said, "It is going to be something you can see ten times and you will see it differently every time – it will always have something intriguing."