The extraordinary twin-peaked fabric dome at the 53,000-seat capacity La Plata Stadium in Argentina represents an evolutionary step in the application of the Tenstar tensegrity roof system.
The unique structure, engineered by Weidlinger Associates, unsurprisingly won the Outstanding Project for International Structures over $100 million at the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations (NCSEA) awards.
Featuring 312,545 square feet of tensile roof clad in a PTFE (Teflon®) fiberglass membrane, La Plata is the first fabric-covered stadium in South America and the first South American stadium designed to be fully enclosed, with the option of being partially covered.
To accommodate the unconventional geometry of the stadium, the main roof structure was formed by tensioned steel cable hoops at three different levels, together with vertical columns, diagonal cables, and ridge cables.
The dome’s patented “Twinstar” design is the first adaptation of the Tenstar Dome tensegrity roof concept to a twin-peak contour, forming a figure-eight-shaped central opening by using tension to resist distortion.
Unlike other tensile roof systems, the stability of La Plata stadium roof’s cable structure does not depend on the PTFE panels covering it. La Plata’s pre-stressed tensegrity design resists global distortion using tension. Consequently, the deck roof is extremely stiff, an effect achieved via the same principle through which a drum skin is stiffened.
The firm originally designed the stadium with architect Roberto Ferreira in the late 1990s based on a prize-winning concept that employed its unique dog-bone configuration to provide separate identities for the two football teams that were its intended residents. Construction was halted in 2000 when Argentina’s economy faltered. The 53,000-seat stadium opened in 2003 with only a playing field and seating bowl, lacking its signature twin-peaked fabric dome.
Construction resumed in 2009, when the site was chosen to host the opening game of the 2011 Copa América, and the completed stadium, for which Birdair, Inc. provided construction-management services, reopened on February 17, 2011.
Since reopening in 2011 following completion of its signature dome, La Plata Stadium has become the object of widespread acclaim, garnering both a 2012 Engineering Excellence Platinum Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies of New York and the prestigious 2012 Outstanding Structure Award from the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering.