Practicality, value, and beauty are not mutually exclusive: David Campbell



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Geiger Engineers

David Campbell, President, Geiger Engineers, talks to Coliseum about the niche area of stadium roofing engineering solutions.

 
Coliseum
“David, Geiger Engineers and sbp (Schlaich, Bergermann and Partner, Germany) share the global market of stadium roofing engineering solutions. Is that the correct impression?”
 
David Campbell
“We do compete with sbp in stadium roof structures. It makes us better to have good competition. sbp are formidable. We provide a bit different approach emphasizing service, value, and innovation.”
 
Coliseum
“Geiger is nearly 100 per cent focused on the US market. Is there really so much work to do? Many other companies involved in stadium architecture and engineering have chosen to go global.”
 
David Campbell
“While much of our market is in the US and Canada, we have always pursued projects around the world and continue to do so, specifically in long-span and retractable roof structures. We have completed major projects in a dozen countries outside the US.”
 
Coliseum
“The roof of a stadium can be a key element to beauty (landmark stadium) or ugliness. Does Geiger support more the practical box version or are you trying to innovate the roofing engineering in order to create visually stunning stadiums (especially in the US)?”
 
David Campbell
“We are engineers, not architects. We strive to develop structures that serve the design vision and programs of our architect and owner clients. Sometimes this is a desire to create a unique “landmark”, sometimes this is a desire to create the most cost effective roof system that achieves a given operational program. We firmly believe that practicality, value, and beauty are not mutually exclusive. We are always trying to innovate and we like to be challenged. I do not believe that any of our structures would be characterized as “in-the-box” solutions.”
 
Coliseum
“More and more owners/clubs want to use the roof as advertisement platform (see new Vodafone Stadium in Istanbul). What is your opinion about that?”
 
David Campbell
“In general, any aspect of the facility that can be employed in revenue generation is positive. The challenge to the designer is how to achieve this in a manner that compliments the architecture and the aesthetic while enhancing commercial value.”
 
Coliseum
“There is a trend that roofs should be dismountable. Sounds crazy?”
 
David Campbell
“There are good reasons to have stadia that are dismountable and such would require dismountable roofs. In many instances, it does not make sense to invest considerable resources to construct a large stadium for a single event. We see less logic for a dismountable roof on a permanent stadium. That said, unique circumstances drive innovative design, so I have no doubt there are situations where a dismountable roof would be appropriate.”
 
Coliseum
“The most important aspect for arenas is how many tons can be put on the ceiling/roof (Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam, more than 90 tons).”
 
David Campbell
“Entertainment rigging capacity is of great import for arena roofs, but also is the flexibility to accommodate these loads wherever a production may want to rig them. That said, I would not characterize this as the most important aspect of arena roofs.”
 
Coliseum
“What is important for a stadium?”
 
David Campbell
“Generally stadia are for field sports, which are played outdoors, so day-lighting of the stadium to create an outdoor ambience while sheltering the spectators is key. Event rigging demand criteria for stadia are less defined than for arenas. Large stadia productions are designed for open venues and they tour with ground-supported sets. That said, there is always the desire to support either show lighting or sound over the seats, suspended from the canopy structure, so it is important for the roof structure to have the ability to support temporary loads.”
 
Coliseum
“How did BIM (Building Information Modeling) support your profession in the last years? Did it make your job easier?”
 
David Campbell
“BIM has greatly facilitated design of geometrically complex structures. Inter-operability with other engineering software, such as form-finding and mechanism modelling continues to improve and this creates exciting possibilities.”
 
Coliseum
“Stadia should be multi-purpose nowadays. How does this influence the design of the roof?”
 
David Campbell
“We have been involved in many domed stadia, these have all been multi-purpose. Multi-purpose stadia, covered and open, were the norm in the US until around 1990. Single-purpose professional sport stadia, ballparks and US football, are now the norm. We see the opposite in other markets, where stadia were say single purpose football and now there is interest in multi-purpose facilities. The facility program typically influences the roof design and more so with multi-purpose facilities. For stadia the desire for multi-purpose use often leads to a retractable or openable roof so the facility can host both outdoor field sports and indoor public assembly events.”
 
Coliseum
“As we understand no tremendous new technical innovations happened in the last ten years when it comes to roofing design (let’s say except BIM as a working tool). But how is the situation on the material side?”
 
David Campbell
“Building construction is inherently a very conservative endeavour, moreover it is incremental. What is deemed innovative in this context are structural systems that were developed in say the last 50 years, which compete with systems that have been in use for a 100 years or more. Tensegrity type structural systems such as the Geiger Cable dome are deemed to be cutting edge structurally, and yet they were conceived 35 years ago. However, how long-span structural systems are employed architecturally in individual building designs is subject to remarkable ongoing and endless innovation.

New materials can take a long time to be adopted in wide spread use, e.g. ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) film was first promoted as a building membrane in the 1970’s, but only was employed in large scale applications 20 years later and while having been employed in many sports applications is likely considered to be quite novel as a building material in many circles. We developed a thermally insulated tension membrane composite of PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) coated fiberglass and nano-aerogel, Tensotherm™, with Birdair and Cabot eight years ago. It has huge potential for application in climates where lightweight tension membranes are not well suited for building envelopes. It is slowly seeing more use.”
 
Coliseum
“If you sit with an owner of a stadium what would you advise him – which roof should he choose?”
 
David Campbell
“The right choice is an integrated roof system that is developed for the specific program, needs, architectural design, the climate, and budget of the owner’s building.”
 
Coliseum
“What makes Geiger different from other engineering companies? What’s your USP?”
 
David Campbell
“We have a very broad approach to long-span roof engineering including mechanization for moving and openable roofs. We are not dedicated to a particular technology but rather to working with our clients to identify and develop that which is appropriate for their specific project.”
 
Coliseum
“What is your favorite stadium roof in the world?”
 
David Campbell
“I am quite partial those that we have done, but that is no doubt biased. Of works by others, I admire the new canopy on the renovated Estádio do Maracanã by Fernandes Arquitetos Associados and sbp, in part as I see it as a cable dome and that it is very well done. I am also partial to innovative renovations of existing stadia.”

David Campbell will be joining Coliseum Summit MENA, 18/19 October at The Torch Hotel, Doha. Join our 6th edition of the stadium and arena business conference and discuss roofing solutions for the sports venues of the world.




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