Columbia University, Seasonal Air Supported Structure

A translucent membrane and cable grid structure held up by slight positive air pressure provides a heated indoor environment that supports numerous sports programs during winter months.

Columbia University’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and Physical Education needed a space for its varsity and recreational sports teams to train during the winter months. Rafael Vinoly Architects proposed an innovative solution consisting of a new artificial turf field that could be covered seasonally by a heated air-supported structure. Installed at Rocco B Commisso Soccer Field at the Baker Sports Complex, the 375-foot-long by 240-foot-wide by 73-foot-tall structure is the largest air supported structure ever built in New York City.

The seasonal structure provides Columbia and the local community a heated indoor environment that supports numerous programs during winter months, including football, soccer, baseball, softball, field hockey, lacrosse, golf, archery, intramurals, and club sports.

The translucent membrane and cable grid structure is anchored to a continuous structural grade beam below the surface of the playing field. The membrane is held up by a slight positive air pressure created by air handling units located adjacent to the structure.