mmm… guess somebody miscalculated the snow loads here…
On Sunday 12th December 2010 the inflatable roof of the Metrodome – the Minnesota Vikings’ stadium – collapsed under extreme snow load. The extent of the damage is huge, but fortunately nobody was hurt. According to media report, more than 40cm of fresh snow came down in the heavy snow storms that heat the city’s area. This is not the first incident; the roof had already collapsed under similar circumstances in 1981, 1982 and 1983. The Vikings are therefore planning to build a new stadium and say goodbye in the next season to the Metrodome.
This futuristic set, nicknamed “The Claw”, is the tallest stage ever built for a rock concert, and it took almost three years to realize. Bono christened it the “U2 Space Station”.
Some might notice a slight incongruity between U2’s environmental/humanitarian activity and this extravaganza… but who cares, it looks great.
The elliptical 436,5m² stage was placed in the center of the arena, avoiding the conventional end-stage stadium show, in order to guarantee a better view to anyone in the crowd. This solution leaves the band free to move in any direction and maintain a greater intimacy with the surrounding audience, despite the scale of the show.
(Credit: jas_gd on Flickr)
Willie Williams the show director got the inspiration for the supporting structure from the 1961 LAX theme restaurant in L.A. Airport (USA) by architect James Langenheim / Pereira + Luckman, he imagined a similar structure, with the legs spanning clear across the full width of a football field so that both band and audience stood beneath the structure, with the entire production equipment (sound, lights and video screen) hanging above the band. The conventional supporting towers would obstruct sightlines from a large number of seats. The structure is 30m high and spans 57.5m. The tip of the central pylon reaches 51.8m. All together it weights 190 tonnes.
LAX theme restaurant in L.A. Airport (1961) by architect James Langenheim / Pereira + Luckman (Source: www.you-are-here.com)
The spectacular giant cone-shaped video screen hanging beneath the structure in the void over the stage was designed with artist and engineer Chuck Hoberman. It is made of LED panels mounted on kinetic scissor mesh surface that expand and contracts changing the image density from 100% solid to almost 50% transparent. The video screen is made of 1,000,000 different pieces and weights 74 tonnes.
(Credit: Salomao Nunes on Flickr)
The tensile membrane cladding of the structure allows low packing volume and fast assembly and gives the entire project a strong identifiable expressiveness. The form-finding and detailing of the membrane was done by David Dexter Associates.
Three 4.8m diameter inverted umbrellas were placed below the stage and deployed whenever needed to keep the band and equipment dry. These umbrellas were originally invented by Frei Otto in 1971 for a garden exhibition in Germany.
(Credit: Talie on Flickr)
(Credit: Sam Judson on Flickr)
Touring such a massive structure is logistically very complex. Three sets of the metalwork were built so they could travel in parallel between the cities, each one taking four days to build and two days to take down, with one day in the middle for production load-in and one day for the show. Everything else, the video screen, lighting, sound, stage, etc. (176 tonnes) would be toured separately as universal production, to be loaded in during the 36 hours preceding the show. 201 trucks were needed to move the entire production – equipment, steel systems, barricade and generators.
The first show took place at Camp Nou in Barcelona, on 30 June 2009 in front of a crowd of 90,000 people.