There’s very little that’s more American than baseball; it’s a constant that grounds, pleases and excites us. Sadly, COVID-19 reduced the length of the 2020 Major League Baseball season and delayed the grand opening of Globe Life Field, the new home of the Texas Rangers. The enormous retractable-roof stadium with state-of-the-art architectural features revealed itself to the world during 2020's National League playoffs and then when it hosted the first neutral-site World Series in three-quarters of a century.
HKS, a team of more than 1,400 architecture and design professionals who curate and create places that stimulate peak performance, collaborated with Construction Specialties (CS) on several phases of the Globe Life Field construction project. The goal was to build an enclosed, air-conditioned stadium that visually provided an open-air ambience without making the 240,000-square-foot retractable roof—the world’s largest single-panel operable roof—the man focal point. They wanted Globe Life to have a friendly hometown feel while providing fans a phenomenal baseball experience and keeping them at a comfortable 72 degrees in the process.
Construction Specialties’ role in the process involved providing louvers that promote air flow—something that is extremely important in the blistering summer heat that the Dallas area often experiences—and necessary for maintaining temperature. Even though louvers are functional, it doesn’t mean they must be unattractive: HKS wanted all elements of Globe Life Field to not only serve a purpose but also be aesthetically pleasing.
The CS Bold Line Louvers, located in the west side air handling/electrical area of the stadium, are unique. In addition to complementing Globe Life’s facade with sharp, clean lines and slate gray color, the B-7505 model used in the project incorporates blades of different depth to provide flexibility and customizability. HKS wanted to ensure their airflow design would defy traditional conventions without sacrificing peak performance or aesthetic appeal. Their solution was to take the louvers’ flexibility up a notch by choosing a blade pattern that exactly matched the complicated pattern of reveals in the surrounding precast panels.
CS used RSV-5700 Bold Line louvers in areas of the stadium’s facade that featured vertically ribbed CPI translucent panels. These panels are designed to help control light and provide energy-saving insulation. HKS was steadfast in their demands for quality accoutrements at Globe Life Field that offered superior functionality and appearance. They required all louvers on exterior walls in non-protected locations to be storm resistant. The RSV-5700 louvers are storm resistant and also have vertical blades that aesthetically mimicked the CPI panels. “CS Bold Line louvers allowed for an unparalleled aesthetic integration into a very visible area of the building,” said Jon Salis, Specification Sales Manager for CS. “There is nothing else available in the marketplace that can provide the same degree of aesthetic flexibility with proven, tested performance.”
A project as complex as Globe Life Field certainly didn’t come to fruition without challenges. For the HKS design team, the roof—towering 278 feet over the field—was a major concern. As mentioned before, they wanted it to be as inconspicuous as possible. The roof’s functionality is undeniable, however. It can fully close within 15 minutes and cover the infield first to protect against popup rain showers while keeping the spectators comfortable. When it opens, the roof extends beyond the stadium itself and doubles as covered parking for season ticket holders. However, HKS wanted it to be transparent (“outdoorsy”) and unassuming. They used ETFE, a very lightweight, transparent material that mimics glass, to diminish the mass of the 19,000-ton roof. HKS also wanted to bring in a considerable amount of natural ambient light, which they achieved by adding translucent clerestories and a large, north-facing glazed window.
Still, HKS went a step beyond and imagined what visitors would see as they entered the stadium from various points. The roof isn’t noticeable right away when approaching from the North or South because of the way it slopes from Globe Life Field’s primary facade. Their method was to design the stadium from the inside out.
CS had challenges, too, while working on the Globe Life Field project. The biggest was timing. It was a fast-track project, and out of necessity many design decisions were made in the post-order phase of the project. Defining the specific blade pattern arrangement of the CS Bold Line Louvers proved challenging, as well. The architect was unable to finalize the blade pattern until after finalizing the precast pattern. This required submittal revisions, but everyone was satisfied.
“The result is a unique and appealing aesthetic which serves as example of our product versatility being a means to expand the possibilities of design and performance,” said Talon Baez, CS Project Manager.
As for Globe Life Field itself, the Rangers were the first MLB team to allow full capacity at a regular-season game in 2021. Fans will fill the 40,000 seats, watch the scores change on three LED video boards, check replays on the 1,450 TV sets, visit one of the 20 bars … and maybe even have a hot dog or two.