Ramping Up Their Game
How ROSSETTI uses technology to score big stadium projects
- ROSSETTI is a 100-person architecture firm in Detroit with a big footprint
- Their specialty is sports stadiums and arenas, building all over the world, including in Detroit, New York, Daytona, Baku and Stockholm
- ROSSETTI invests heavily in technology, from software suites to 3D printing machines, with a special task force in charge of implementing new programs
- Interoperability between softwares is a key to their success
Designing for Sports
Even if you’re not familiar with their name, you probably know their work. ROSSETTI, located in Detroit, Michigan has designed and renovated some of the highest profile stadiums and arenas across the world: the design and upgrade of Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, New York, home of the US Open; a $400 million redesign of Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida; or even Baku Olympic Stadium in Azerbaijan and the Tele2 Arena in Stockholm, Sweden, which won Stadium of the Year Award by Stadium Business in 2014.
So how does a medium-sized firm in the American Midwest compete against much larger, global companies for such high profile projects?
Innovation Task Force
Well, talent, of course. But part of the answer, too, is technology. Matt Taylor, a design lead at ROSSETTI, has led the firm in embracing new technologies, from software solutions to 3D printers, that have revolutionized the way he and his firm design, model and build their incredibly complicated structures. “Because we’ve been so successful as a firm, it’s not a hard sell” to make a case to the firm’s controller to purchase new software, Taylor explains. ROSSETTI has invested heavily, yet “we haven’t wasted any money on technology,” he continues.
For Taylor personally, one of his go-to programs is Bluebeam Revu, a PDF markup, editing and collaboration technology. Revu, says Taylor, is used “as a device to communicate. It’s really my bridge to clients, consultants, team members, and it becomes that record keeping and markup tool that allows me to communicate.” He adds, “I have it open ninety percent of the time.”
“I have it open ninety percent of the time.”
Taylor also highlights Navisworks, a 3D design review package, as being an all-important tool in his virtual toolshed. “It’s one of the most intuitive programs to be able to understand things three-dimensionally, spatially, in context.”
The two programs, as an added bonus, are now integrated, which means that he can immediately export a 3D model from Navisworks straight to Revu with the click of a button, so it can be viewed and—perhaps most importantly—shared as a 3D PDF. This not only makes his own work easier and more efficient, it also helps his bottom line, as clients are much more comfortable looking at something in the familiar PDF format. Says Taylor, “It’s a challenge sometimes for clients to use NavisWorks, but it seems less of a challenge to get them to buy off on a PDF. It’s a format that can go across the board. To have that integration button in Navisworks is almost like magic.”
The firm has a special task force committed to researching and pushing tech forward, in all aspects of their work, from technical production to design and visualization, and that doesn’t mean only software. For instance, two years ago ROSSETTI purchased two 3D printers—no mean investment—which they’ve used to produce design prototypes and even, in some instances, have created parts that are incorporated into the plan realization.
The Technology Gym
The firm also subscribes to a service called TechShop—Taylor describes it as a kind of gym membership for the maker community—which grants them access to a range of expensive design and manufacturing tools such as laser cutters, vacuum formers, 3-axis routers, pipe benders and waterjet machines. That’s opened up a whole new perspective for the architects, “how to translate the technology to actual physical objects. It’s one of the most invigorating and exciting things I’ve seen in the last few years.”
“It’s one of the most invigorating and exciting things I’ve seen in the last few years.”
Taylor mentions a pro bono job they did for the Downtown Boxing Gym, a Detroit-based nonprofit that provides physical and educational training to local youth. ROSSETTI donated approximately $300,000 worth of design services to the club; they fabricated steel plates to create signage for their facilities, saving the club from having to pay an outside manufacturer.
Though ROSSETTI’s designs are all over the world, and are best appreciated up close and personal, you don’t need to travel to appreciate the scope of their work, and to see how their embrace of technology has paid off for their clients. All you’ve got to do is tune in to the annual Thanksgiving Day football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Detroit Lions. The Lions will be playing on their frosty home turf, in a stadium whose $100 million redesign was just helmed by—you guessed it—ROSSETTI.