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Green Building - Detroit Lions

   Author: MetalMag

New facility for Detroit Lions is LEED certified and metal savvy

By Jennifer G. Prokopy, Contributing Editor

When the Detroit Lions professional football team set out to construct a new home, they faced a multitude of challenges: creating a facility that invokes the spirit of the team, accommodating a wide range of activities in one space, and preserving surrounding wetlands and natural vegetation. To meet all these needs, the building team chose to work with metal-a material choice that offered flexibility and creative options.

Built to coincide with the opening of the Lions' new Ford Field Stadium in Detroit, the 225,000-square-foot headquarters and training facility serves as both year-round training grounds for the team and home to the entire Lions organization. It includes a 95,000- square-foot indoor practice field, two outdoor practice fields, and 130,000 square feet of office and training space, all situated on 22.7 acres of land spanning two Michigan cities: Allen Park and Dearborn. The organization moved into its new home in April 2002.

Team scores a win for the environment

As green building accelerates in the United States, the savvy design team of the Detroit Lions' new facility recognized from the start that LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification was something to strive for. They also claim it's something no other sports facility project has ever garnered.

"We wanted to investigate and question the typical process for designing a building," says Chris Beck, project designer with Gensler, design architect/interior architect for the facility. The team unanimously agreed that while some LEED certifications would complicate site design, being more environmentally responsible was well worth the effort. Environmental sensitivity was equally important to the owner, Ford Motor Land, and the Lions organization, which heartily backed the plan to go green.

Green features include recharging of existing wetlands on the project site and minimizing site disturbances within the developable area. Existing foliage has been left alone wherever possible. Inside the facility, natural daylighting in both of the buildings substantially reduces energy requirements for lighting. Recycled materials were used throughout the buildings, including bamboo flooring, carpet tiles, and ceiling and wall treatments. Low radiant-heat emitting materials, individual HVAC/lighting control systems, and a humidification system all contribute to a reduction in energy use and an increase in tenant comfort. What's more, 75 percent of construction waste materials were recycled, exceeding LEED standards.

Invoking a strong team spirit

The design of the two-story facility was driven primarily by the training and development needs of the players. Internal and external adjacencies, supporting architecture, and interior design are all configured to accommodate the vast range of activities that take place every day in the facility. Pairing the two goals of environmental responsibility and player-focused design was essential, says Bill

LEED scorecard

Although the final certification process for the Detroit Lions' facility is still being conducted, the project has already scored numerous LEED certification credits in the following areas:

  • Sustainable Sites
  • Energy & Atmosphere
  • Materials & Resources
  • Indoor Environmental Quality
  • Innovation & Design Process

    LEED certification distinguishes building projects that have demonstrated a commitment to sustainability by meeting the highest performance standards. Members of the U.S. Green Building Council, representing all segments of the building industry, developed LEED standards, which are currently available for new construction and renovation projects, existing building operations, and commercial interiors projects.

    LEED emphasizes state-of-the-art strategies for sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality. LEED certification applies only to building projects, not materials, products, or services. But in most cases, building products and services contribute to satisfying the criteria. For more information, visit

  • Hartman, managing partner/design director with Gensler. "The two objectives go hand in hand," Hartman emphasizes. "Sustainable design is a good thing for the entire team-not just the players, but everyone in the organization." A key decision was harvesting natural light wherever possible throughout the facility, Hartman says. "Our design focuses daylight so it gets down to the heart of the players' experience."

    The facility's diverse functions are served by many different spaces including lobbies, practice areas, equipment and locker rooms, meeting spaces, training rooms, media support facilities, administrative offices, and kitchen and cafeteria space. A unified look was required to tie it all together, says Beck. "The building team agreed that metal is a material that is more in line with the imagery that the team wants to invoke," says Beck. "Metal gives the structure a fresh, strong, crisp look…something new, more dynamic, that invokes strength." It was a natural choice for the indoor playing field, and from that point it was only logical to employ it throughout the rest of the project. The exterior of the facility is clad almost entirely in metal panels.

    Insulated metal panels with a stucco finish house the indoor playing field, which is 440 by 220 feet and reaches 110 feet at its highest point. Steelox Systems Inc., Mason, Ohio provided the field's Sentry XTR wall siding and standing seam metal roof, which both have a Kynar finish. Custom color is used throughout the site, and the indoor field is no exception, employing a custom silver color on the roof and walls and white accent banding at the column lines along the two ends of the building.

    Irregular site boundaries meant the design team had to be creative in situating the new buildings. As a result, the two-story headquarters and training facility wraps around the indoor field on three sides to make best use of all the available space and to achieve a stepped transition from street and pedestrian traffic. "Color is used to provide a subtle contrast between the two masses of the facility and to help reduce the overall size impact the building has on the skyline and the surrounding area," says Beck.

    Mimicking the yard lines of a football field, the predominant white panels of the headquarters and training building are set on 3-foot vertical modules, beginning 3 feet above grade, atop split-face concrete block. The exterior cladding is a combination of two materials: FormaWall 2-inch insulated white metal panels with a stucco finish are used for the majority, and Econolap 3/4-inch corrugated panels in a custom blue color accentuate each entrance. Both panel products have a Kynar 500/ Hylar 5000 finish and are supplied by Centria, Moon Township, Pa.

    Insulated 1-inch panels from Crown Corr, Highland, Ind., in a custom silver color with a Kynar 500/ Hylar 5000 finish are used for column line banding. The building's horizontal emphasis is broken every 30 feet by vertical 1-foot-wide smooth-face panels, which are recessed from the plane of the main panels. Accentuated scuppers at the roofline emphasize the vertical banding.

    Wherever possible, more expressive and colorful applications of metal are introduced at the entries and mechanical enclosures along the roof. The result is a striking visual-a regimented design that reflects the decisiveness and strength of the football world.

    Smart Growth program to convert 'local eyesores into community assets'

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has initiated a new program to support the revitalization of brownfields, which are abandoned, idle, or underused industrial or commercial sites where reuse may be complicated by environmental contamination. Converting brownfields into productive pieces of land allows the use of existing infrastructure while conserving valuable acreage of open space, farmland, and critical environmental areas.

    Under EPA's "Smart Growth: Saving Open Space, Revitalizing Brownfields" program, initiated in July, nine communities received grants of $45,000 each to help in redeveloping brownfield properties. "With hundreds of thousands of brownfields needing attention across the country, it is clear that we must choose areas with real redevelopment potential. These communities have demonstrated a readiness to make the most of their redevelopments by embracing the smart growth approach," said EPA Administrator Christie Whitman.

    A growing number of communities are turning to smart growth to protect their dwindling open spaces and to trim development costs, a necessity in a down economy. The nine communities awarded the grants will use them to fund creative, innovative approaches to "converting local eyesores into community assets," said EPA Deputy Administrator Linda Fisher.

    One of those approaches is "Smart Sites," a program to market available brownfield sites to potential developers by promoting incentives. It will attempt to ease the redevelopment process by streamlining permit and approval procedures, identifying a single point of contact within the government for assistance, and publicizing available financial incentives.

    To locate potential development opportunities or for more information about the Smart Growth program and the communities involved, visit

    Comments: Green Building - Detroit Lions

    If only the Lions could field a team worthy of this facility!
    By Anonymous
    Worry not ! Ye of little faith! The Roar shall be restored--and soon !
    By Anonymous
    Go Lions!
    By Karlin
    Post a comment > -

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