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Bringing a Title(town) to Green Bay

Bringing a Title(town) to Green Bay

By Luke Carothers

In August 2021, the Green Bay Packers organization celebrated the completion of Phase II for the Titletown Project, which is a mixed-use development directly adjacent to their storied home: Lambeau Field.  Phase I of Titletown, which was completed in 2017, featured the transformation of a 45-acre parcel of land from a parking lot to a year-round multi-use space that includes a 10-acre public plaza with amenities such as a sledding hill, playground, full-sized football field, activity area, and an ice skating rink.  Phase I also included the construction of buildings to house businesses like the Hinterland Brewery and Titletown Tech as well as a healthcare facility for Bellin Health.

One of the firms who worked to make both phases a reality was raSmith, who provided building design services for the Titletown Flats building as well as the podium slab it sits on.  Titletown Flats is a seven-story, approximately 193,000 square foot apartment building that is integrated with the podium slab.  On top of being integrated with the Titletown Flats building, the unique podium slab also supports an office building and an outdoor entertainment venue that houses parking underneath.  Titletown Flats, which houses 152 apartments, is designed to address unique framing requirements for the multi-family residential space.  It features 8,700 feet of at-grade level space beneath the podium slab and 184,00 square feet of space above it.

Like most things in Green Bay, the schedule for the development revolved around the Packers.  Opening dates for each of the individual pieces of the development were set to correspond with events in the Packers’ game schedule, which means these dates couldn’t be moved.  This difficulty was compounded by the number of different stakeholders in the project.  Steven Roloff, raSmith’s Structural Project Engineer for the Titletown development, points out that with many individual stakeholders comes the same number of goals.  This causes what Roloff calls a “cascading effect” where design changes resulted in subsequent redesigns for other disciplines.  Despite these challenges, raSmith and the other stakeholders in the development facilitated communication well enough to complete the project within the rigid timeline set by the Packers’ game schedule.

As plans for Phase II of the Titletown project were being made, the team knew they needed to expand from the original boundaries of Brookwood Drive, Lombardi Avenue, Marlee Lane, and Ridge Road.  Needing space for residential use, the project’s limits were increased by additional land south of Brookwood Drive from Ron Wolf Way to Marlee Lane.  Phase II not only used this additional area for expansion. It also expanded vertically.  To increase the density of the Phase II site, two vertical developments were constructed: Titletown Flats and the U.S. Venture Center.

With this increase in density comes an increased need to handle traffic and parking.  To accommodate for this increase in density, building footprints were shifted to the east, which provided more surface lot area.  This also made space for the creation of the development’s podium, which provides parking under the office, living, and plaza spaces.  With this increase in density and the subsequent parking space increase, Phase II necessitated a re-analysis of the development’s traffic impact.  The team needed to ensure that the proposed changes wouldn’t create any traffic issues and verify that the number of proposed parking spaces, both off- and on-street,  were adequate to meet the needs of the development.  This re-analysis and subsequent review led to improvements on both Marlee Lane and Brookwood Drive.  For Brookwood Drive, the road was redesigned with improved features such as special lighting, roadway design to calm traffic, and safe pedestrian access to the Titletown district.

According to Roloff the design and construction of the podium was counter to the typical structural engineering process.  Roloff points out that during the typical structural engineering process, you start from the top and work your way down to the foundations.  However, due to project requirements, the podium had to be constructed before Titletown Flats.  Through early dialogue with the client and architect, Roloff and his team at raSmith developed a conceptual design for the Titletown Flats building.  Using this conceptual design model, they better understood the magnitude of the loads imposed upon the podium slab by the Titletown Flats building.  As such, Roloff and his team determined that special hold downs were needed to address the lateral loads the building would be subjected to.  These hold downs worked to handle the lateral loads the building would face, but they had to be centered in the walls of Titletown Flats.  This posed a challenge because Titletown Flats was not far enough along in the design process to know the exact location of those points.  To solve this problem, special details were developed during the design and detailing of the podium slab, allowing for a greater out of tolerance placement of the hold downs than industry standards permit.  This allowed the team to successfully design the podium and have it under construction before heavy engineering design began on Titletown Flats.

The counterintuitive nature of the structural design process for the podium slab brought challenges, and this was further impacted by the dynamic design process and multiple changes that happened early in the design process.  Roloff and his team relied on past experience on other projects to overcome this new challenge, setting “design criteria since other facets were in the early stages of project demands.”  Another challenge arose when an additional story was added to the Titletown Flats building after construction on the podium had already begun, making it necessary to redesign the podium slab without stopping construction.  However, Roloff and his team were able to rely on “flexible design solutions” as they had in Phase I.

When Phase II of the Titletown development was opened to the public in August 2021, it fulfilled the aspects of “work” and “live” in the overall goals of its management, allowing people to buy townhouses and rent apartments and office space.  This partially alleviates one of the biggest challenges to any stadium development: inconsistent usage.  By making the area around the stadium an extended community in which people can live and work while also attracting visitors through entertainment and commerce, Titletown ensures a steadier stream of revenue while also making it an attractive destination for tourists and fans alike.

Luke Carothers is the Editor for Civil + Structural Engineer Media. If you want us to cover your project or want to feature your own article, he can be reached at lcarothers@zweiggroup.com.