An Open Invitation

Tom Jaske
The USTA, the world’s largest tennis organization, is transforming the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) is the not-for-profit national governing body for tennis and the recognized leader in developing the sport’s growth on every level in the US, from local communities to the highest point of the professional game, the US Open. The USTA has embarked on a Strategic Transformation programme that will assure the world-class status of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (NTC), located in Queens, New York City. The enhancements to the NTC will accommodate an extra 10,000 people each day during the US Open, with the increased number of visitors providing a significant economic boost to Queens, New York City and the metropolitan region. The built environment plans link to the facility's strategies around emerging technology, hospitality, sponsorship activation and spectator optimisation. The USTA is self-financing the project, with no public contribution.

The built environment plans link to the facility’s strategies around emerging technology, hospitality, sponsorship activation and spectator optimisation.

The five-year programme addresses a long-standing problem for the US Open. Plagued by rain delays and postponements in recent years, the tournament’s schedule has been pushed an extra day to Monday with players sometimes forced to compete on consecutive days. A long-anticipated retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium, designed by ROSSETTI, will bring resolution for players, fans and broadcasters. Also included are infrastructure upgrades, a parking garage and construction of two new stadiums. The transformation is being implemented in three phases, which began in earnest at the conclusion of the 2013 US Open with the issuance of Schematic Design for the roof project. The USTA has the goal of overall completion by the 2018 US Open.

Phase one is scheduled for completion in August 2016 and includes the retractable roof, new electrical substation and chiller plant. The central plant improvements serve the added load for the Ashe Roof and the rest of the Strategic Transformation programme. The Ashe Roof is noted for its very large 250ft by 250ft opening and the closing time of five minutes. Phase two comprises construction of a new 8,000-seat Grandstand Stadium in the southwest quadrant. Seven courts will be moved south so that a larger pedestrian and fan esplanade can be created, together with an additional food court, merchandise locations, spectator seating and sponsor exhibit booths.

Phase one is scheduled for completion in August 2016 and includes the retractable roof, new electrical substation and chiller plant.

The project’s final phase will include the construction of the new 15,000-seat Louis Armstrong Stadium, with the targeted completion date of August 2018. The third phase will also see a series of upgrades to the East Entrance, the most trafficked entry point to the US Open. Faithful+Gould has been appointed by the USTA to provide project management and cost management services on the programme. Our role involves liaison with all stakeholders, including the NYC Parks Department (who lease the land) and the NYC Public Design Commission.

We are maintaining the master schedule, monitoring the construction programme and implanting project and cost controls. We also ensure that all project participants have a collaborative visible record of the project activities, via our ePM solution, Oracle Primavera Unifier. We are creating a project management system that can be used not only for the NTC upgrades but also for the USTA's wider project portfolio. This helps them develop their business processes, harness best practice and make most efficient use of their resources. In this way, the USTA capitalises on the large programme effort and has a legacy system in place when our role is over.

We are collaborating with our parent company Atkins on this project, leveraging Atkins' prior experience as the first official engineering design services provider to an Olympic Games...

Hunt Construction Group began work on phase one Strategic Vision in April 2014, first addressing the problematic site conditions which require unusually deep piling and complex drainage plans. The August/September date for the US Open 2014 is obviously fixed and must be met. One of the challenges of our project management role is to schedule construction around this annual tournament, ensuring timely delivery with minimum disruption. The US Open demands that the site is available two months in advance, to prepare for 100,000 daily visitors, broadcast media requirements and visitor facilities in addition to the stadium and athletes’ needs. Logistically, this is a constrained site, calling for careful orchestration of deliveries and workflow during the construction works.

We are collaborating with our parent company Atkins on this project, leveraging Atkins' prior experience as the first official engineering design services provider to an Olympic Games, where we led the sector and showcased the London 2012 Games as a feat of engineering excellence, demonstrating breadth and quality in engineering and design.

Written by