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Connecting the dots on innovative, energy-saving stadium dome

With Colliers’ engineering and design expertise, upgrades improved airflow, snow support, and energy efficiency.

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In Syracuse, New York sits the largest domed stadium on any college campus in the U.S.

Connecting the dots on innovative, energy-saving stadium dome

The JMA Wireless Dome, known to most as “The Dome”, opened in 1980 and became a landmark for the city. Inflated by a system using forced air to keep the fabric ceiling afloat, The Dome generated oppressive heat and humidity when packed with thousands of fans in the summer. Furthermore, staff needed to climb onto the roof in the winter to remove snow off the fragile fabric to prevent the ceiling from buckling.

When the opportunity came to replace the stadium dome to improve occupant wellbeing and reduce energy use, a steel cable truss system clad with rigid panels and a tension membrane was devised by the original designer of The Dome. This would not only improve airflow and safely support snow accumulation, but it would also permit natural light to illuminate the field – an element expected to save Syracuse University millions of dollars in energy costs.

With the design in place, local builder Hayner Hoyt approached Colliers Engineering & Design experts for support on this 260,000 sq ft project. We conducted a high-accuracy vertical survey of the structure to ensure the new system could come together seamlessly and safely.

Each quadrant of the roof had to be assembled with less than three-eighths of an inch for error – a very complex operation. Our enterprising surveyors fought swings in temperature that shifted the building and new superstructure, and solved discrepancies in readings by thinking outside the box: using infrared thermometers and setting monitoring points on the building face to discover the steel was unexpectedly contracting and expanding by up to an inch. We acted quickly and deployed different techniques to map the project out with near perfection, all at 150 ft off the ground.

During construction, Colliers teams were in regular contact with Hayner Hoyt and its partners to ensure success. We put the engineers and construction crews at ease by mapping the massive 129,000-pound crown truss with utter precision.

The complex was successfully upgraded in 2022, elegantly altering the Syracuse skyline and modernizing this jewel of the school’s sport programs.