Rogers Centre (formerly ‘SkyDome’) is a versatile entertainment centre accommodating a variety of events. HH Angus provided mechanical and electrical engineering for the SkyDome, as well as vertical transportation design, lighting design and inspection. The ‘Dome’ was a milestone project for HH Angus and Toronto – the world’s first domed stadium with a fully retractable motorized roof.
In 1989, the innovative facility made Toronto the envy of cities around the world. Harry Angus, now CEO and Board Chair, recalls the intense pressure on HH Angus’ team leading up to the opening. Walking the entire venue prior to opening, he was the engineer who signed off on the building’s fitness for occupancy; it was a heavy responsibility as he detailed the final work requirements that would ensure the safety and comfort of more than 50,000 people beginning with the opening night gala.
The late Peter Willings was HH Angus’ Principal in Charge. His initial involvement was on the feasibility study team, whose task was to determine if a stadium with a retractable roof was even possible. The team’s report concluded that it was. The study team then had to frame the design competition rules. It was at that point that we had to make a choice whether to stay on in our existing role, or to join a bid team. HH Angus was invited to join Rod Robbie’s bid team, and Willings cited Robbie’s ‘well-thought-out plan’ as a key to winning the project.
Tom Halpenny, now HH Angus’ Vice President and General Manager, was the Lead Mechanical Engineer and Project Manager: “It was a very challenging project. The design kept changing as we went along but Opening Day didn’t move; for example, the entire SkyDome hotel, a 350-bed building, was an afterthought; it was added when design was 75% complete. The Sky Boxes were also added late in the design phase, as was the decision that the field should double as tradeshow space, so we had to quickly design systems to support that use. Football was added to the event schedule, and that meant seats suddenly had to be movable. Many other design ideas came and went, including a cable car inside the Dome. But, through it all, we had a really good team – the architect, Rod Robbie, was a tremendous person to work with, as was his team; also EllisDon as the contractor, and our entire HH Angus team. We communicated well and regularly, and everyone respected the expertise of the other team members.”
One of the biggest design challenges our team faced was how to design a mechanical system that had all the usual system elements but no roof to go through. As Tom points out, “this had never been done before. As the ‘bents’ (vertical cement trusses) were poured, we would design for the resulting space. But it was interesting – the Design Build became more of a Build Design!” For several years afterward, Tom led tours of the mechanical and electrical spaces at the SkyDome for ASHRAE groups, students and various service clubs.
For Lead Electrical Engineer Fred Hucaluk (Ret.), a particular feature of the building stands out – the lighting control system for the 800 – 2000 watt metal halide floodlights mounted in six steel framed banks under the roof sections. “After reviewing the problems of Montreal’s ‘Big O’ stadium, where the lighting control system was a basic system similar to an office building, and required an operator at each lighting bank with a walkie-talkie on opening day, we opted for a remote control system with a hard-wired back-up, as well as the basic digital control. The remote control relays at the lighting banks, controlling only two 2 kW fixtures, had a local tog control at the lighting panels. This allowed for lighting for all the major sporting events, as well as concerts and theatrical productions.”
Mechanical Engineering | Electrical Engineering | Vertical Transportation Consulting | Communications Design
Status: Completed 1989
KEY SCOPE ELEMENTS
World’s first stadium with a fully retractable motorized roof | 350-bed hotel | Moveable seating to accommodate other events | Remote controlled lighting system
The complex’s award-winning lighting was designed by HH Angus. The lighting design for the playing surface, with over seven hundred and seventy 2000 watt floodlights, won the IES Paul Waterbury Award of Excellence in 1990. HH Angus was also awarded the Edwin F. Guth Memorial Lighting Design Award of Merit for the lighting in the SkyDome Hotel.