Project: Build the world’s
largest domed stadium
Location: Arlington, Texas, USA
Key Project Players:
City of Arlington
Manhattan Construction Co.
Walter P. Moore Engineers and
1994: Dallas Cowboys football
team owner Jerry Jones
announces plans to build a
stadium with additional seating
and a retractable roof.
2005: The city of Arlington and
the Dallas Cowboys select a
April 2006: The project team
6 June 2009: Cowboys Stadium
DALLAS COWBOYS STADIUM
Highlight: Even with 1,500
scope changes, the project was
delivered on schedule.
Project: Build a facility to help
scientists get closer to achieving
self-sustaining nuclear fusion
Location: Livermore, California,
Key Project Players: U.S.
Department of Energy
1996: The project begins.
May 1997: Construction starts.
September 2001: Construction is
February 2009: Instruments are
installed and tested.
March 2009: The lab is certified
by the U.S. National Nuclear
June 2009: The first large-scale
laser target experiments are
Highlight: The project marks the
READY FOR THE BIG GAME
largest scientific facility ever
built by the U.S. Department of
NATIONAL IGNITION FACILITY
Locals like to brag that “everything’s bigger in Texas.” And the Cowboys Stadium certainly lives up to that reputation.
Home to the National Football League’s
Dallas Cowboys, it’s the world’s largest
domed stadium. The facility also has the
largest capacity of any venue in the league,
as well as the world’s largest column-free
interior and largest high-definition video
“The major challenge for us and our
team was the sheer size,” says Mark Penny,
project executive at Manhattan Construction Co., Dallas, Texas, USA, the lead
contractor on the project. Along with the
predictable project players—the football
team, the owners, the city—the team had
to contend with sponsors, team departments, more than 250 subcontractors and
16 artists creating onsite installations.
There was never any doubt, though,
as to the most important stakeholder:
the fans. “From the start, the ownership
focused on how to make the fan experience even better,” Mr. Penny says.
But that focus on the end user
translated to 1,500 modifications of the
“Every change had some facet of
increasing the quality of the fans’ experience while at the facility,” he explains.
The team decided, for example, to add
additional video boards late in the project
to ensure that everyone, no matter where
they were sitting, could see a screen.
All those shifts led to a major
increase in the construction budget,
but the team wasn’t given even a single
day of leeway in the schedule.
“It really challenged us to have all of
our processes in place as efficiently as
possible so that each new issue could be
tracked from the concept idea through
final install, while being funded and fit
into the schedule,” Mr. Penny says. “It
was like a marathon. You feel like you
have trained for it for years—but when
you are actually in the middle of it, you
realize nothing could really prepare you
for the challenges that you face.”
For more than 50 years, scientists have
worked to achieve a self-sustaining
nuclear fusion reaction, known as “
ignition in a laboratory.” Looking to speed
that effort along, the U.S. Department
of Energy launched its largest scientific
construction project ever: the National
Ignition Facility (NIF).
The 10-story building contains a
lab with 192 lasers that aim to deliver
at least 50 times more energy than any
previous laser system.
That kind of power could be just
what it takes to achieve ignition, marking “a major step toward developing
inertial fusion energy as a clean, safe
and virtually unlimited energy source
for the future,” says Ed Moses, PhD,
principal associate director, NIF.
One of the first steps was to institute
a high level of communication and
technical and scientific project integration with an international, interdisciplinary consortium of scientists and
engineers, as well as thousands of vendors and suppliers.
The team knew it had a firm deadline for construction so equipment
could be installed and testing completed, and it faced a wide variety of
research and development, technology
and engineering obstacles.
“A prime example was obtaining the
optical components needed to build the
lasers,” Dr. Moses says.
These weren’t just any lasers. The
project team set out to construct the
largest optical instrument and largest
laser in the world, along with a facility
to contain the 8,000 large optics and
about 30,000 smaller optics. But at the
time of the groundbreaking, the capability to produce the needed laser glass and
crystals—which triple the frequency of
the laser beams—didn’t even exist.
“To produce laser glass quickly
enough to meet our schedules, NIF
project managers worked closely with
two optics vendors to develop a new
production method that continuously