By Luke Carothers
For well over 100 years in the American Midwest, football has been as much a part of life as death and taxes. In Green Bay, Wisconsin, this seems to be doubly true. Often billed as the last of the “small” NFL franchises, the Packers and the people of Green Bay have a unique relationship in the modern climate of professional sports.
This relationship began around the turn of the 20th century when several small semi-professional football teams combined and secured $500 for equipment and uniforms from a local meat packaging company. Thus, the team the NFL now known as the Packers was born on the shores of Lake Michigan.
These early Packers teams won often, securing 6 NFL championships while playing their games in the small, 25,000 seat wooden City Stadium. Their success, however, outmatched their seating capacity, and in the 1950s the NFL threatened to move the franchise to Milwaukee if a new stadium wasn’t built in Green Bay. Fearing the loss of a franchise that had given much to the identity of the small town, the city built the first stadium exclusively for an NFL franchise.
In 1957 the new stadium was completed (originally called New City Field), and was renamed to honor the late Curly Lambeau in 1965. Originally built to hold around 32,000 spectators, it has since been expanded to hold just under 73,000 screaming fans for Packers’ home games.
To say that Green Bay is football-obsessed is an understatement. Since 1960, every single Green Bay Packers home game has been sold out, and, to add to that, they still have roughly 115,000 people waiting in line to receive season tickets.
With so much focus on one place and one team, it is no wonder there have been numerous improvements to not only the stadium, but also the areas immediately surrounding it. In addition to upgrading seating, adding field lights, and other stadium improvements aimed at cultivating the flow of football-crazed fans, several improvements have been made to the infrastructure in the surrounding areas to ensure they have capacity to handle high-volume crowds at distinct and predictable intervals.
In early 2015, coming at the end of a 3-year stadium renovation that gave the stadium new infrastructure and lighting, the Green Bay Packers announced plans for an innovative project that would transform 35 acres of land just west of Lambeau Field. The plan–dubbed “Titletown”– was to build an innovative, mixed-use development aimed at accommodating not only the fans and visitors who flock to the area, but also local residents.
Subsequently, an initial plan for the project was made by Rossetti Architects, Sterling Project Development, and Titletown Development. The plan was to create a space that could incorporate several different groups of end-users. As such, space was planned for a number of different activities that both supported game-day activities as well as encouraging year-round tourism. The original development plans included space for things like a brewery, a luxury hotel, and a health clinic as well as a sledding hill and 10-acre park and plaza, all of which is featured at the final space.
At the initial stages of development, there was a strong need to bring in a civil and structural engineering team with a strong background in working on mixed-use developments, and raSmith was brought on board. They were tasked with evolving the site. More specifically, they had to develop the plan in a way that provided access to the site, balanced parking with developable building area, and provided space for a public plaza.
When raSmith joined the Titletown Design Team, the development space was not yet defined. Using public input sessions, the development team was able to determine how the space was being used through Phase I of development. After gathering input from the public, it was decided that Phase I would consist of buildings such as Hinterland Brewery, Lodge Kohler, Bellin Health, and Titletown Tech as well as a plaza that features a sledding hill, skating rink, playground, a full size football field, activity area, and a lot of open space.
Additionally, according to Senior Project Manager Ryan J. Lancour, the project faced constraints based on scope when the project acquired land, eventually growing by approximately a third and incorporating the re-construction of two public roadways.
Initial plans were also made for a second phase of development that would create a more pedestrian-friendly experience. Phase II was focused on increasing the number of townhomes and reconstructing a major public roadway; it also includes the construction of a podium that significantly increases the development’s parking capacity while keeping open space above.
From a structural perspective, the team was able to overcome challenges posed by varying soil bearing conditions underneath the site of the Bellin Clinic. In addition, the site was further complicated by the inclusion of a partial basement that would be constructed below the water table. To overcome this, raSmith constructed an augercast pile system to support the at-grade portion of the building in order to provide the best value while also minimizing construction impact for the residential building adjacent to the site.
From a use perspective, the team also had concerns about sound- and foot-induced vibrations coming from the Bellin Health Clinic’s second floor, which was designed for activities such as running, jumping, and freeweight use. Based on owner and architect concern for those noisy activities being noticed on the first level offices and exam rooms, raSmith recommended that a roll-out floor isolation system be incorporated into the design.
As time passes, the Titletown project continues to grow. From the first announcement of Phase I in 2015 until now, this project has seen a high level of development from the perspectives of both form and function. raSmith’s Structural Project Manager Steven Roloff, P.E, LEED AP, notes his team’s ability to achieve “flexible design solutions” as a way to create fewer issues during the construction process. According to Roloff, his team was able to lessen these construction issues by incorporating details that allow for larger field tolerances than normal.
While work still continues on Titletown’s Phase II, it is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.
raSmith’s Titletown Teams (Phase I & II)
Ryan J. Lancour, P.E., Senior Project Manager, Client Manager for Titletown
Jeremy Jeffery, P.E., Senior Project Engineer, Lead Design Engineer
John Casucci, P.L.S., Senior Project Manager, Surveying Services
Pat Hawley, P.E, PTOE, RSP, Assistant Director of Transportation Services
Justin Schueler, P.E. Traffic Project Manager, Lead Traffic Engineer
Steven Roloff, P.E., LEED AP, Structural Project Manager
Robert Ray, Senior Structural Engineer
Steven Roloff, P.E. LEED AP, Structural Project Engineer
Jeff Derra, P.E. LEED AP, Senior Structural Engineer
Michael Kren, P.E. Project Engineer
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 email@example.com.
This article was originally published in February 2021.