CHICAGO, IL - With the ever-increasing pace of higher education
construction, adding a new athletic stadium enhances the campus community
by providing countless opportunities to students and to the community
by hosting special events, intramural and high school sports, and
various recreational activities. Facing fire and building code challenges
that simply didn't exist a few years ago with large, open-air assembly
facilities, Rolf Jensen & Associates (RJA) delivered innovative solutions
to achieving code compliance in emergency situations for Reliant Stadium,
home to the Houston Texans.

"Achieving complete and total code compliance is difficult in these types
of facilities," explained Michael Crowley, RJA project manager. "We worked
with the City of Houston to gain acceptance for alternative methods of
compliance for the smoke control system, exiting and other features unique
to the facility."

RJA considered using the retractable roof as a means to allow smoke to
escape in the event of a fire. The roof, which is constructed of steel with
a fabric covering, completely opens in about 10 minutes. The roof cannot
be opened when wind speeds exceed 35 mph. Because wind speeds are typically
in the high teens at the roof's peak, the city required RJA to approach
the stadium as a smoke-protected assembly with the assumption that the
roof would not be open.

This kind of innovative solution requires pre-planning – a key ingredient
in the RJA success formula. RJA evaluated models, which determined how much
smoke would be generated in a fire and the most favorable ways to control
it for the design of the smoke control system. Even more important was
conducting exit calculations and timed egress for occupant evacuation.

RJA also negotiated a code variance with the City of Houston to allow 3,000
additional standing room-only occupants to be added to the existing
configuration on the main concourse, as well as providing for special fire
department access to hoses at alternative standpipe locations. The first
stadium to have a retractable roof in the National Football League,
Reliant Stadium, now is the centerpiece of the Reliant Park complex with
venues for sports, entertainment, conventions and other functions.

Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, Rolf Jensen & Associates provides a
comprehensive range of engineering and consulting services for clients
on projects around the world. Through its 30 offices, the company is the
leading consulting engineering firm for fire and life safety issues, from
designing a fire alarm system for a high-rise building or conducting a
fire model for smoke control in a new convention center to providing
on-site management of the life safety construction process or conducting a
custom training seminar on performance-based design.

For a complete list of services, contact Rolf Jensen & Associates at
600 West Fulton Street, Suite 500, Chicago, IL 60661.
Telephone 312-879-7220 or visit

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