November 27, 2018
When Globe Life Field opens in 2020, the most anticipated piece will be the 240,000 square foot retractable roof, providing a climate controlled atmosphere 365 days a year.
"When the roof is open, it [will] feel like an outdoor ballpark," HKS principal John Hutchings said. "The challenge is [when the roof is closed], on a 105 degree Texas summer July day, creating an environment that feels like you're still not in an enclosed space."
On Tuesday, the Texas Rangers announced key design features for the retractable roof ballpark, including how instrumental natural light is to the design, confirming HKS' vision for an open ballpark atmosphere.
"So many times in retractable roof designs, where the decks are stacked up, the building looks very dark. So we're hoping we can incorporate more natural light into the building and give it the outdoor feel, minus all the heat and the elements," Texas Rangers Executive Vice President of Business Operations Rob Matwick said.
Even when the roof is closed, Globe Life Field will have an outdoor feel due to the installation of Ethylene Tetraflouroethylene (ETFE), a plastic polymer related to Teflon.
"We told the Rangers we're going to try to make it as light and airy in the design as possible, Hutchings said.
There will be an estimated 223 ETFE cushions throughout Globe Life Field, ranging in size from 16 feet by 10 feet to 200 feet by 10 feet.
"The addition of ETFE across the center portion of the roof was a critical part in making it feel more open with the roof closed," Hutchings added.
Over 120,900 square feet will be covered in ETFE panels. The transparent, lightweight material will also be utilized along the concourses, filtering light throughout the levels of the ballpark.
"When you go into the upper concourse and suite levels of the building, there are actually openings cut into the concourses so that light will translate all the way down into the main concourse," Matwick added. "We're trying to make it as transparent as we possibly can."
Part of Tuesday's unveil involved a replica 3D model of Globe Life Field, with a retractable roof that operates similar to how the roof will operate when Globe Life Field opens. The roof operates on a mechanism similar to a railroad track, supported by 20 electric motors that will drive the roof open and closed.
Roof construction is a major focus of current construction at the ballpark site. Work on the roof trusses, the support system for the roof track, continues to progress daily.
"There's a lot of work going on with the roof right now… what we're starting to see now is really the support for the roof," Texas Rangers Sr. Vice President of Project Development Jack Hill said.
The roof will continue to progress this winter, with the arrival of the largest American made crawler crane, Maxim Crane Works Manitowoc 31000. The 3,000 ton crane will lift the nearly 19,000 tons of steel used for the roof structure.
"Typically this operation will take somewhere between a year and 14 months, from beginning to end. There's a lot of work that has to take place to get that done," Hill added.