Commemorative events to celebrate the grand opening of Dickies Arena in fall 2019 ranged from a ribbon cutting party to Monster Truck competitions, and performances by Twenty One Pilots, the Black Keys and the Harlem Globetrotters. The arena is home to the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo and other sporting events.
Not all the action takes place under the domed roof, however. The Dickies Arena plaza deck provides not only breathtaking views of the Fort Worth skyline, but offers a high level of functionality, strength and performance to protect visitors and livestock.
According to Bill Shaw, operations manager at Dickies Arena, the plaza is designed to serve as an extension of the rodeo, enabling visitors to watch the livestock from above. Ten-to-12-foot windows built into the plaza deck provide a view of the 100,000 square foot warm-up area where animals work with their handlers before barrel racing and other rodeo events. A roadhouse tent hosts musicians for plaza deck performances held following the rodeo. And instead of a conventional courtyard, Dickies Arena boasts a “cork yard” wine and food space.
Functionality Fuses With Performance
From lush green spaces that provide a scenic vantage point for taking in the iconic Fort Worth skyline and views of nearby barns and stables to fire lanes for emergency vehicles and concert equipment deliveries, Dickies Arena requires a plaza deck that can deliver outstanding strength. And in Fort Worth’s unpredictable weather, it must also successfully manage storm water runoff. The insulation used in the roof — Owens Corning Foamular extruded polystyrene (XPS) — is key to delivering compressive strength and storm water management performance. But the team specifying insulation for this unique landmark encountered some unusual challenges.
With a plaza deck encircling the main arena of about 140,000 feet, the size, scale and slope of the Dickies Arena plaza deck all presented challenges for the insulation team, beginning with the estimating process. The plaza’s design required a blend of tapered, flat filler, and reverse tapered installation.
Each phase was broken into three layers. The reverse taper layer brings the slope of the roof back to a flat slope. The flat fill section raises the height of the roof without adding the weight that concrete would have contributed to the plaza. A traditionally sloped area above the slab and pavers directs water back to the drainage assemblies located in the top layer of the roof. These layers had to be carefully calculated for many sections around the jobsite that changed in priority as construction surged ahead of schedule.
All the calculations required an experienced team who could coordinate and collaborate in real time. Sunbelt Building Services LLC was the insulation distributor on-site and team members’ experience in the roofing industry proved to be an invaluable asset. As Sunbelt prepared the drawings, Owens Corning calculated the insulation estimates by computer and by hand to ensure accuracy, piece by piece, and then Sunbelt reviewed them again. “You’ll never get the correct material count if you don’t know how the roof is sloping, where the drains are located and how to interpret the structural architectural drawings,” says Darrell Evans, project manager at Sunbelt Services. The result of the estimating process showed the collaboration and teamwork were successful. The estimated insulation for one of the first phases was within two pieces of the material used on the jobsite.
Managing Storm Water
Based on the “sandwich” of the roof design, Dickies Arena required two sets of drains sloping in different directions, according to Eric Nelson, AIA, RID, CCCA, and vice president at HKS, the architect of record for Dickies Arena.
The structure has one set of drains at the lowest level, where TREMproof 6100, a waterproofing membrane from Tremco, was hot-mopped into place over the concrete slab. On top of the waterproofing layer is the insulation and filter fabric, as well as the sand bed, Hanover pavers, and planters with trees. Slot drains at the top level collect surface water, and the drains at the lower level collect any water that works its way through that system. Extensive modeling was helpful in determining not only the placement of drains but precisely how much insulation should be used — and its depth and location — in various parts of the plaza deck.
Given all the activity taking place on the plaza roof, material weight was a huge consideration when selecting the roofing insulation. Emergency vehicles must be able to navigate the fire lanes that encircle the deck. Semi-truck trailers need to unload concert equipment and staging. From a building material perspective, the plaza deck supports 5 inches of concrete in addition to the weight of the insulation, with reverse tapering depths varying from 3 to 5 inches. In some areas, the plaza deck’s insulation is 12 to 13 inches deep.
While the project was originally specified to require 100-psi insulation, the team evaluated the Dickies Arena design structure and determined its design would allow weight to be distributed in a way that could be effectively managed by a 60-psi insulation. This exercise in value engineering revealed the lighter compressive strength XPS could deliver required strength and offer better economics. The plaza can support weight loads of 25,000 pounds.
Logistics Require a Team Effort
With the estimating complete and materials specified, supply chain management became an area of focus. Owens Corning worked with its manufacturing plants across the nation to coordinate logistics involved with production of XPS product and delivery to the jobsite.
A best practice on any construction project is to ensure products are not left unprotected and exposed to the elements, so communication and jobsite staging were coordinated between Owens Corning, Sunbelt and various contractors on the job. As XPS continues to expand slightly after manufacturing, the insulation was “aged” for 30 days after it came off the line. Owens Corning production plant teams, product managers and sales managers worked with a dedicated purchase order processor and a team of 20 to manage the plaza deck insulation project through to completion.
On the jobsite, tapered pieces were sent up the slope and cut into specific rectangular sizes. Easily cut with a knife, structurally sound XPS isn’t prone to breaking into messy pieces and avoids random materials blowing away from the construction site. Given the sunny and windy climate in Fort Worth, the contractor kept exposed materials protected from sunlight and glued loose pieces together with a product that would not harm the insulation. Ordering the right amount of the right products at the right time was essential when considering up to 700 people were working on the project during peak construction periods.
The effect of the plaza deck gracing Dickies Arena can be summarized by modifying a common statement about Texas: “Everything is bigger and better in Texas.”
About the author: Tiffany Coppock, AIA, NCARB, CSI, CDT, LEED AP, ASTM, RCI, EDAC is the Commercial Building Systems Specialist at Owens Corning where she provides leadership in building science, system development, testing, and documentation.
Architect of Record: HKS Inc., Dallas, Texas, www.hksinc.com
Plaza Deck Installer: Sunbelt Building Services LLC, Dallas, Texas, www.sunbeltllc.com
Waterproofing Membrane: TREMproof 6100, Tremco, www.tremcosealants.com
Insulation: Foamular 600, Owens Corning, www.owenscorning.com
Brick Pavers: Hanover, www.hanoverpavers.com