Cobo Arena Expansion
Demolition & Reconstruction Project
Eminent Conceptor Award for Engineering:
American Council of Engineering
Companies of Michigan (ACEC/Michigan)
In 2009, operational control of Cobo Center was transferred to the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority (DRCFA) for the purposes of improving and expanding the facility to serve the needs of its global customers and drive the economy of Metro Detroit. The signature element in the transformation of the south side of Cobo Center was the construction of a new three-story atrium opening to the Detroit River and the conversion of Cobo Arena into a glass-enclosed banquet and event space.
An aggressive project schedule, strict completion dates and the event schedule of the adjacent exhibit space presented significant schedule and coordination challenges. The planning, work sequencing, and evaluation of structural integrity during demolition fell to the demolition contractor and their Professional Engineer.
NTH was retained by and worked closely with the demolition contractor, Homrich, Inc., and later with the steel erection contractor, Midwest Steel, Inc., to provide structural engineering services throughout the project to: design temporary shoring and bracing to meet all codes, ordinances and regulations; coordinate the location and sequencing of temporary shoring and bracing; and leave temporary shoring and bracing in place until permanent supports, bracing, and floor diaphragms were installed.
NTH’s unique contribution to the project was the recognition of the potential benefits that could be realized from utilization of the shell-like geometry of the original structure. A detailed look at the probability of each failure mode considered, coupled with detailed demolition and erection sequencing, resulted in the elimination of all internal temporary bracing. This approach freed up various work areas ahead of schedule and allowed the construction manager more flexibility in scheduling the work.
This project demonstrates what can be accomplished with the cooperation of multiple stakeholders and innovative professionals committed to delivering a social, economic, and sustainable solution for development. Assessing risk and addressing complex and differing concerns, the team strived to thoroughly understand site conditions, and incorporate effective and innovative engineering to development, while safeguarding existing public and private infrastructure.
Residents of southeast Michigan can now proudly boast about their new convention facility. Reminiscent of a more prosperous time, this transformation of an underutilized component of Detroit’s past stands as a testament to the fortitude of its people, the community, and the professionals dedicated to its rebirth.