By MAJ Mike NicholsonAugust 25, 2011
Kansas City, Kan. -- So what does the team who designed and built Kansas City's new Major League Soccer Stadium and a group of students from the School of Advanced Military Studies have in common? More than you would think.
Students and faculty from the Advanced Military Studies Program, SAMS, met with the lead architectural, construction and owner representatives who conceived, planned and built the new multi-million dollar LiveStrong stadium that is now home to the Kansas City Sporting soccer club.
The intent of the visit was to have the individuals who represented the three primary teams -- owners, architects and construction - discuss the challenges and lessons learned of taking a project from a conceptual idea to a physical building in an extremely time constrained environment.
"We wanted to build the finest soccer stadium in the U.S.," said David Ficklin, representative of the Sporting Soccer Club. "It was a project that was very personal to the owners, and we wanted that ultimately reflected in the finished product."
A traditional stadium the size of the LiveStrong Sporting Stadium would typically take 36 months to go from concept to opening day, but the Kansas City Sporting team accomplished it in a quick 24 months.
Ficklin represented the five owners during the planning and construction phase, but considered himself a part of a team that was working towards a common vision. That vision began with concept meetings between himself and members of the architectural firm Populous.
"We started by brainstorming ideas and eventually came up with the concept of the Body and the Ball," said Jonathan Knight, one of two lead Architects from Populous. "Over the course of the project, we then took that idea and evolved it from a purely conceptual idea to a more detailed one."
Included in the conceptual process was Andy Hietman of Turner Construction Company, who would normally be less concerned with the conceptual and more concerned with the detailed building plans.
"In the initial conceptual meetings I had less to say, but as they got closer to the actual design of the physical building, I would inject with what could or could not be done," said Heitman. "Sitting in those initial meetings gave me an idea of what the designers and owners were going for, so when we were in the later stages of construction with less opportunity to reverse course, I had an idea of what their initial vision was."
The process is familiar to students from the Advanced Military Studies Program who also learn techniques on how to take a plan from the conceptual to the detailed.
"When we are given a task of, for example, creating 'peace and prosperity' somewhere, the question that eventually has to be asked is what does that look like to a unit on the ground?" said Maj Jason Ballard, AMSP student. "The process that the three members of this team went through in designing and building the stadium is surprisingly similar to the process that a commander and a staff goes through when collaborating on a plan. It may begin with the conceptual idea similar to what the architects created, but eventually the plan has to become detailed so that the construction team, or subordinate commands in the Army, can actually implement it."
The students saw many similarities in how they structured their team from the beginning stage through the final stage, to how a military planning team would approach a project.
"They had lots of face-to-face meetings which helped keep everyone informed, got lots of external participants involved earlier than they would have normally, and empowered individuals to make decisions so that the process would not become stalled," said Ballard.
The techniques used by the owners, architect and construction teams in the creation of the Sporting Stadium are ones that the SAMS students could see utilizing in future assignments.
"They created structures and mechanisms which forced the creation of relationships early on, and that early focus on team-building and trust ultimately helped them in the later stages when they needed it most," said Ballard.