As Serena Williams‘ bid for her historic Grand Slam continues at 7 p.m. tonight at the U.S. Open, the super structure of Arthur Ashe Stadium’s new retractable dome will hang overhead. The lightweight-fabric roof won’t be complete until next year, but we wanted to take a moment to share the backstory of the innovative thinking behind this unique construction project.
The largest tennis stadium in the world is sinking into a mound of coal ash decomposing at a rate of about a half an inch per year. So putting a retractable roof on the 23,771-seat structure that can’t support more weight was a particularly gnawing conundrum that kept countless architects up at night.
In fact, the Detroit-based international architecture firm, ROSSETTI, felt compelled to continue working on the riddle of covering Arthur Ashe Stadium even after initially losing the bid for the $150 million dome in 2009. ROSSETTI couldn’t resist the challenge of solving what other firms and four architectural studies couldn’t — even at the risk of taking a loss on a design that wouldn’t see the light of day.