Anodized Aluminum Finishes the Superdome

December 1, 2019

New Orleans, LA, a city known for its resilience, is home to the largest fixed dome structure in the world, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome For more than 40 years, this beloved landmark has symbolized athletic excellence and city pride.

With that in mind, it was only fitting that after suffering significant damage during Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, the Superdome reopened on September 25, 2006, with a Saints victory over the Atlanta Falcons. Yet, despite the favorable football outcome, the process of fully restoring the Superdome had only just begun.

Having gained international recognition during the hurricane’s aftermath as a last-resort shelter for 30,000 New Orleanians, the Superdome captured the world’s attention as it was reconstructed. The hurricane-force winds had torn holes in the Superdome’s roof, sending water pouring inside. Once the stadium was declared structurally sound a few weeks later, the work of cleaning, drying, and restoring the structure to its former glory began.

Restoring such a massive structure as quickly as possible to help get New Orleans back on its feet seemed daunting, but the team of architects and engineers at Trahan Architects evaluated the damage, developed a set of performance-based criteria for the renovation of the exterior of the Superdome, and got to work.

Designing the Supersized Superdome

The exterior of such a premier venue for major entertainment and sporting events—including seven Super Bowls—had to exude excellence and prestige. The criteria included developing a cladding system that would allow for easier replacement and finishing the exterior with a color that replicated the original finish and looked like the New Orleans Saints gold. The team wanted the beauty of the embossed aluminum to show through while also retaining its color for years to come. The material also would have to be formable into the panels and strong enough to pass upgraded wind testing, a precaution for future storms.

The team selected FC Façade panels by Kalzip, an Indiana-based company specializing in metal roofs and wall cladding. These panels were easy to install and replace while also providing impressive strength and important rain screen protection.

Anodized aluminum from Muskegon, MI-based Lorin Industries, Inc. provided the finishing touch—the material to be formed into the Kalzip panels. Trahan Architects in New Orleans tasked Lorin with matching the original aluminum color of the Superdome in order to return it to its original aesthetic appearance of 1975.

To achieve this goal, Lorin developed a new product, Lorin Light Bronze ColorIn Stucco embossed anodized aluminum by using its color consistent processing capabilities and continuously communicating with the experts involved in the project to ensure its product would bring the vision to life. The resulting aluminum enhances the natural characteristics of the metal through an environmentally embracing oxide layer that protects and enhances the multi-dimensional look.

A Landmark Restored, by the Numbers

When the aluminum panel installation was complete in 2010, 365,000 sq. ft. of finished aluminum panels on the new Superdome gleamed out over the resilient city of New Orleans. More than 400,000 lb. of Lorin Light Bronze ColorIn Stucco embossed anodized aluminum, with an architectural Class I anodize layer, covered the exterior. Each panel, covered with a fade-proof finish, measures 1 by 25 ft. and weighs approximately 27.5 lb.

The Superdome’s impressive technology and myriad fan amenities also make it one of the most advanced stadiums in the world. The walk around the Superdome’s exterior plaza stretches 0.65 mi. In October 2011, an LED lighting system consisting of more than 26,000 lights was installed to illuminate the stadium’s aluminum exterior. This exterior illumination system can reproduce any color, pattern, or image onto the smooth Lorin finish of the stadium panels, which often helps raise awareness for charitable causes. The attractive illumination made possible by the shining finish of the anodized aluminum helped contribute to the lighting system winning Live Design magazine’s Excellence in Design award in 2012.

The results of the partnership between Kalzip and Lorin ensures that the Mercedes-Benz Superdome will long shine with the luster of Saints gold, drawing in visitors and New Orleanians alike as an enduring symbol of resilience and pride.

Industry-Related Terms: Layer, Color, Drawing
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms


See also: Lorin Industries

Technologies: Materials


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