(From Sports Business Journal, November 4, 2013) Lead architect Bill Johnson of Kansas City-based 360 Architecture was more than excited to hear that a unanimous decision was made to improve the Atlanta Falcons stadium design for $1.2 billion. The new design will feature a retractable-roof that is the first of its kind. “I’m looking forward to when that roof opens up for the first time,” Johnson said of the eight panels that will travel along octagonal tracks to create an opening to the skies. “The heavens will open up.” When asked if he was worried about creating this new kind of roof, Johnson said, “I’m not worried at all. We have a great city, and we have a great owner.”
Falcon’s Owner, Arthur Blank, had told the designer that he wanted a retractable roof unlike anything that had ever been seen before. The design features a roof that opens up much like a camera opens up to take a picture. The design also features a “dramatic view of the downtown skyline” that was the result of removing the seats on the east side structure so as to create a “window to the city.”
The stadium was initially supposed to cost one billion dollars, but many of the design features needed to give it an iconic style raised those costs. The original design was supposed to be an open-air stadium, but they decided that they wanted the ability to climatize the stadium as well. Falcon’s President Rich Mckay said, “The majority of the increased cost is related to the iconic design. We never wavered from the design. We may have even enhanced it. That drives a lot of that cost.” The stadium is scheduled to be ready to go for the Atlanta Falcon’s 2017 football season.