Reliant Stadium: If You Build It, They Will Come

Posted on: April 21, 2010 5 AM

This famous movie line has traditionally been applied to baseball, but Houston football fans followed suit when Reliant Stadium opened this fall. As the Houston Texans suited up for their first home game, the Chamberlin crew that had spent close to two years on site at Reliant Stadium, took a big deep breath.


So did the hundreds of others who worked on the project in partnership with Manhattan and Beers, the joint GC team on the project. Their project was complete. In just 20 months the $400 million stadium was ready for the 69,000 Texan fans who converged there opening day. Chamberlin’s portion of the job included the sub-roof system, the expansion joint systems and required waterproofing.


Given the logistics of coordinating a project of this size, an on time completion was a feat. But add several “firsts” in construction history to the list of the regular scheduling obstacles and you have a notable accomplishment. The stadium’s retractable roof is the one and only of its kind. This has put Reliant Stadium in history books, much like its predecessor, the Astrodome, was 37 years ago. Likewise, the palletized grass playing field is the only of its kind in an NFL stadium.


What else would you expect from a team called the Texans? Everything is bigger and better in Texas and the motto certainly rings true when it comes to Reliant Stadium. “Bigger” was a key component to Chamberlin’s portion of the job. In fact, the $3.6 million contract is nearly two times the size of what the company typically considers to be a “large” project. But the experienced Chamberlin team took it in stride. Duane Duffy, Project Director for Manhattan/Beers commented, “Chamberlin was prepared to take on the scope of the project. From previous experience, we knew they had the management expertise, manpower and a scope of services that was especially appealing.”


Chamberlin actually began work on the project in October of 2000. The firm’s first contribution to the job was a value engineered design/build solution for the sub-roofing that ultimately shaved approximately $320,000 off of the owner’s cost. Credit for this savings is attributed to three key factors: the company’s experience with a similar system at Minute Maid Park, the expertise of the Chamberlin estimating team and Chamberlin’s partnership with Law Engineering, the firm that re-engineered the original plans.


Chamberlin’s package was as comprehensive as it was extensive. To be more exact and provide an idea of the scope of these projects, consider these numbers. Chamberlin was responsible for applying 25 miles of sealants in the “bowl” of the stadium; 11 acres of concrete sealer on the pre-cast seating; and installing over a mile of expansion joints including 15 different varieties.


The expansion joints are an interesting part of this job,” explained Chamberlin’s Senior Project Manager Shane Hubbard, “What’s unique about the stadium is that it’s actually six different structures that are two to four inches apart. The expansion joints connect them and compensate for the expansion and shrinkage that occurs in the concrete structure due to variable conditions in the weather.”


The waterproofing portion of the job was also unique. The waterproofing needs inside the stadium were special to say the least. “When the roof of a building opens, the waterproofing needs inside change dramatically,” explained Jonathan Winkles, Chamberlin’s On-Site Project Manager for the Reliant project. Just a few of the services Chamberlin provided to ensure the waterproof integrity of the stadium included: elastomeric coating, below–grade dampproofing, deck coating, slab-on-grade sealants, architectural pre-cast caulking/sealer, standing seam roofing and miscellaneous sheet metal and flashing.

The Reliant job entailed an incredible commitment to safety and communication for all those involved. Chamberlin is proud to report a record number of man-hours were recorded on the job without a single injury. The firm worked closely with other subs and the general contractor throughout the duration of the project. Jonathan Winkles commented, “I spent as much time in the Manhattan trailer as I did anywhere else. We had to make sure we all communicated with one another in order to schedule each portion of the job. We have an excellent relationship with the people at Manhattan/Beers. We work well together; they know they can count on us.”


The company brought to the project the ability to provide ingenuity, but more than that, Chamberlin brought the ability to provide ingenuity in regard to a broad scope of services. In fact, Chamberlin’s charge included services that may have otherwise required Manhattan/Beers to enlist three separate subcontractors. Truth is, Chamberlin was the only local specialty subcontractor with the ability to provide the convenience of this one-stop-shop solution.


John Kafka, Chamberlin CEO commented, “We are equipped to handle sophisticated jobs. We have the expertise and capabilities to perform complex and schedule driven work in a safe and productive manner without sacrificing quality. Our clients know they can trust in us to get the job done right.”


And the job is done. The stadium now stands as a reminder of the ingenuity, scope of services, and teamwork that went into constructing it. Reliant Stadium: a bigger and better stadium for the Houston Texans.

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