Our world’s problem-solvers engineers are masters at their craft. How do they do it? How do they create a better future? Construction industry insiders see this in effect, every day.

As a prime example, take the case of engineers at the DIA (Denver Int’l Airport), www.flydenver.com, one of the busiest airports in the United States. These engineers on DIA’s HTC (Hotel and Transit Center) program encountered a dilemma that had to be resolved before construction could begin. In providing an answer, they achieved an engineering “first.”

Before work on the HTC could begin, roof tension-cable anchors at the Jeppesen Terminal’s south end needed to be removed. One problem: the roof needed to be held stable for almost two years until the anchors could be reestablished on a plaza that would be built between the terminal and a new hotel. Ten cables and anchors plus two masts held up the terminal’s roof for two decades. Removing the cables’ support anchors and their concrete foundations and also keeping the terminal’s roof in place and under tension was a major obstacle to completing the HTC.

Parsons Transportation Group, www.parsons.com, Westmont, Ill., engineers, together with representatives from Severud, www.severud.com, New York, NY; Birdair, www.birdair.com, Williamsville, NY; and Mortenson-Hunt-Saunders Tri-Venture, www.saundersci.com, Denver, Colo., created an innovative engineering solution. They erected two massive metal shoring towers on the terminal’s south side, which held the roof down and held the masts in place. Birdair fabricated and installed the new, aesthetically pleasing, iconic PTFE membrane roof at the South wall of the terminal.

At about 100-ft. tall with bases nearly 30-ft. square, each tower was built with 200 tons of steel. Crews took six months to excavate down 30 feet to the project’s final grade, install the tower foundations, construct the towers, and transfer the 215,000-pound roof loads from the cables, anchors and masts, to the two towers.

This innovative solution, or South Terminal Redevelopment Project (STRP), aimed to reinvent the way DIA connects to the city by providing travelers easier access to downtown Denver. The STRP is a program targeted at developing major hospitality and transportation amenities.

After completion of this project renovation, Birdair installed new roof anchors, transferred the loads to new foundations and removed the temporary shoring towers. Today, Birdair’s work for the DIA is completed. The result? A simply stunning and iconic tensile membrane roof for travelers to enjoy for years to come.

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