Preservation of Historic Roof Dictates Climate Pledge Arena Design Approach

Paul Steinbach Headshot
Climate Pledge Arena Sunrise
Photos courtesy of Climate Pledge Arena

Climate Pledge Inset2
Climate Pledge Arena honors its name in more ways than one. Opened in fall 2021, the home of the NHL expansion Seattle Kraken and WNBA Seattle Storm not only recycled elements of its predecessor — KeyArena — but scores sustainability points with its earthy heating-and-cooling efficiencies. The project began in 2017 and involved preserving components of the existing facility’s signature roof and perimeter curtainwall designed to debut at the 1962 World’s Fair and since included in both local and national historic landmark registries. That meant temporarily supporting the roof and excavating some 60 feet below grade to make room for the entirely new venue. A central column, complete with stair access to the roof’s catwalk system, bore the bulk of the 44-million-pound load. Protected roof elements included a concrete ring beam, 20 Y-shaped support columns, buttresses on each elevation and interior triangular trusses. The curtainwall’s 20-foot-wide glass panes were removed, cataloged, stored and treated off-site for lead-paint abatement, then returned to their proper positions, with the exception of a new entry atrium on the south elevation. Meanwhile, dimensions of the new 17,000- (hockey) to 18,000-seat (basketball) arena — 80 percent of which sits below grade — were pushed farther beyond the glass line by 50 feet to the east and west, 20 feet to the north and 160 feet to the south, where an underground parking garage was built beneath the atrium. Satellite structures — what project architect Todd Spangler calls “snorkels” — surround the original footprint and serve the arena’s air intake, air exhaust and fan egress needs. “They’re basically a complex tunnel system to let the building breathe. We use all those structures to really do a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of the function of the building,” says Spangler, a principal at Populous. “We didn’t want to add anything to the roof or facade, so that the original shape and form of this jewel in the park could remain as pristine as possible.”

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