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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Wimbledon Stadium in London by Edge Structures

August 1st, 2012 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: Bentley Systems, Incorporated

A four-year improvement program at Wimbledon’s All-England Club was staged around the annual tennis tournament, with London-based Capita Symonds as the main structural consultant and Edge Structures, a structural engineering design practice based in London and Leeds, coordinating design among multiple contractors. Edge Structures used Bentley’s building information modeling (BIM) software to design the facility improvements for a new retractable roof.

Image Courtesy Edge Structures

  • Structural Engineering Design: Edge Structures
  • Project: Wimbledon Stadium
  • Location: London
  • Marketing Editor: Carol Minton
  • Company: Bentley Systems, Incorporated

Image Courtesy Edge Structures

The All England Lawn Tennis Club has hosted the Wimbledon tennis tournament since the inaugural event in 1877. Refurbishing the facilities in between tournaments posed many challenges. One of the most daunting was the project’s tight schedule, which, if not met, would pose major consequences for the design team, main contractor, and supplier fabricators. Initiated in 2005, the project included redeveloping the East Stand of Centre Court, extending the terrace to add six rows of seating, and installing a retractable roof for play in adverse weather conditions.

Image Courtesy Edge Structures

The refurbishment was part of the club’s 25-year master plan, which was produced in 1992 to secure the tournament’s place as the premier tennis event in the world, according to John Westmuckett, a director with structural consulting engineers Westmuckett Hawkes. Westmuckett participated in the master planning and Stage 1 structural design while associated with BDP. The key proposals of the master plan, he explained, were to construct a new No. 1 Court and media center, redevelop existing courts to make room for two more courts and additional spectator space, and redevelop Centre Court to provide more space for concession stands and retail outlets.

Image Courtesy Edge Structures

The preliminary design kicked off in the early 1990s, with construction scheduled for completion in 2010. The design for the redevelopment of Centre Court commenced in the summer of 2003 with concept studies and schemes that took into account the entire process. This included early enabling works, demolition of the original1922 East Stand, removal of the existing roof, reconstruction of the stand, and building a new fixed roof. It also included the development and installation of a retractable roof that could be deployed in just 10 minutes.

Construction on Centre Court began once the 2005 tournament ended, with reconstruction of the East Stand in2006-07, construction of the new fixed roof in 2007-08, and completion of the retractable roof in 2008-09. Each construction phase took place during the nine-month gap between tournaments.

Image Courtesy Edge Structures

BIM Provides Seamless Integration

Throughout the project, 3D structural design played a vital role. For example, the structural design of the retractable roof was modeled from the outset with Structural Modeler, which is part of Bentley’s BIM applications. This application empowers structural engineers and designers to create structural systems for buildings and industrial plants in steel, concrete, and timber with unlimited freedom. MicroStation served as a common technology platform for architectural and engineering design. It provided a robust set of capabilities for object management, geometric modeling, drafting, information and standards management, visualization, drawing and report extraction, integration with analytical tools, and interference review.

The first BIM task for Edge Structures was to create a model of the existing structure and site constraints. “As the design progressed and the trade contractors became involved, their production models were incorporated and checked against this base model,” Westmuckett said. “This ensured full coordination and understanding of these key interfaces.”

Although originally employed as the project director for Capita Symonds, Westmuckett was also involved in all subsequent stages of the redevelopment project while in the employ of various firms retained as subconsultants to Capita. As structural director at Edge Structures, Westmuckett conducted design coordination sessions for multiple contractors and disciplines using Bentley software to promote creativity via open forums and design workshops. Drawings, sketches, and images combined into live models were manipulated on screen to communicate with stakeholders, which encouraged individual as well as collaborative innovation.

The ability to quickly visualize how new proposals could be constructed was key to the phasing of work between the tournaments and, ultimately, the success of the project. Galliford Try, the primary contractor, embraced the Bentley software used for these visualizations as a crucial tool to inform major strategic decisions.

Each phase of construction had to be completed within the time period, and had to be adapted to allow the tournament to be staged without minimizing the “live” experience to spectators, members, press, and players. This delayed the roof phase for one year. “It was not possible to complete and clad the whole roof in one nine-month period, which included the construction of terraces in the east wing. And although the team considered several scenarios with a partially completed roof, the decision was made to forgo the roof construction for this year,” Westmuckett said. “Of course, that year it rained—a lot.”

Construction Simulation Speeds Erection

Speed of erection was vital once the team moved into each new phase. During construction staging, a trial testing and erection regime was carried out at a site in northern England. 3D design models were built in sections and presented in workshop sessions with the design and construction team to establish the erection procedure. “The whole process was carefully monitored and reported so that what was learned at this test could be applied in the more congested site at Wimbledon,” Westmuckett explained.

Solutions to speed on-site construction included prefabricating sections of box trusses, complete with air handling units that were fabricated and stored locally, ready for installation immediately upon completion of a tournament. The 3D design technology facilitated procurement and communication of information with fabricators. For example, a CD of a complete model of the precast concrete terraces was given to the precast manufacturer, which then produced its own shop drawings. The model also had the steel stools that supported the units. This was issued to the steelwork contractor, which then produced the steel raker beams and supporting structure. Said Westmuckett, “It was difficult to find a better and simpler way of ensuring the accuracy of this interface.”

The use of Structural Modeler and MicroStation in the development stages of the design and the integration of other professionals’ work in 3D minimized the required design resources. Rather than preparing and issuing 2D drawings and details, the presentation of live models on screen showing work in progress kept large meetings well focused on the key issues, enhanced communication, and saved valuable time normally lost in digital exchange and long-distance commenting. “The ability to interface with different CAD and software files, and to present in live working sessions to inform and discuss key issues, was invaluable,” added Westmuckett.

Wimbledon’s Centre Court redevelopment, including the new retractable roof, was completed in 2009. The two new courts envisioned in the master plan have also become a reality, with the new No. 2 Court—seating 4,000 spectators—opening in 2009 and the new No. 3 Court—seating 2,000spectators—opening in time for the 2011 tournament.

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