Stadiums with retractable roofs are commonplace, but there’s never been anything like the new home of the Atlanta Falcons, which is set to open for the 2017 season. Instead of a flat panel that slides back, Mercedes-Benz Stadiumhas an innovative oculus design that recalls a camera lens. It’s one of many forward-looking elements of the $1.5 billion, 71,000-seat stadium. The project’s lead architect, Bill Johnson, explains.
The oculus’s eight segments each retract in a straight line, but an optical illusion makes it look like everything is rotating—a spectacular effect on such a large scale. “One goal was for people to come from all over the world not just for a football game, but to see the structure,” Johnson says. And while most retractable roofs take more than 15 minutes to open, the oculus’s clever mechanism and light materials let it accomplish that task in as little as six.
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