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28 March 2017

Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena Set to Become a “Pillar of Urban Renewal”

Detroit Little Caesars Arena_Credit HOK 2

HOK’s Ryan Gedney discusses the urban planning and design challenges surrounding Little Caesars Arena, the new home of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings and NBA’s Detroit Pistons, in an interview with Engineering News-Record.

“Construction teams have faced a host of challenges on the Little Caesars Arena in the heart of Detroit, from tracking sustainability for multiple buildings to creating an arena with one of the steepest bowls ever built.

“For the owner, Olympia Development, the construction arm of the Ilitch family’s business network, the big, bold ideas incorporated into the design are what make the new arena incomparable. President and CEO of Olympia Entertainment Tom Wilson says project team members traveled all over the country going to different arenas, asking each about the best aspects of their own design.

“‘And it’s all going to be in this new arena,’ he says. ‘We’re not the first to do what we’re doing, but we’re definitely the first to do it on this scale. The simple size of it puts us on a whole new level.’

“The arena, which measures 360 ft from east to west and 460 ft from north to south, will total 895,000 sq ft, with roughly 755,000 sq ft of that being usable area.”

“The arena’s seating bowl is steep enough to create an intimidating wall of people, which will make it one of the more intense venues in the National Hockey League. The lower bowl is completely below grade, sitting 40 ft into the ground.”

“Since the lower main concourse is completely at grade, district activity and concourse activity are one in the same, right at street level. That helps to blur the inside and the outside together, which is one of the main objectives of the new arena.

Detroit Event Center

“‘By sinking it in the ground it’s not such an opposing monster’ and instead is on the scale of a three- to four-story building, says Gedney.

“‘This new-age design created unique challenges that stemmed from this ‘bigger picture idea.’ To do something on this level, you have to be passionate about urban planning. This often requires designing well beyond the site of your particular project,’ says Gedney.”

Engineering News-Record