McLane Stadium - Baylor University, Waco, TX
Populous Project Site
Project Type: Stadium & Pedestrian Bridge
Location: Waco, TX
Architects: Populous
Engineering: Buro Happold
Size: 93 Acres
Capacity: 45,140 People
Canopy: 147,000 SQFT
Activity: American Football
Images Courtesy Populous
Date: Design: 2011, Completion: 2014

"CHALLENGE: Revitalizing football on the Baylor Bears' campus went beyond just constructing a stadium. After more than six decades of playing off-campus, Baylor University enlisted our expertise to craft an entirely new and transformative experience. The $250-million facility had the dual challenge of visually and physically embodying the future vision of Baylor University while seamlessly integrating with the existing campus architecture and expanding the campus footprint over the Brazos River. The stadium's Texan location necessitated a design capable of withstanding high temperatures to ensure a comfortable environment for both players and spectators. Additionally, our team faced the task of creating a world-class stadium within the constraints of a tight budget, devising cost-effective methods for delivery.

INNOVATION: The design process for our college stadium architects was heavily influenced by the site and traditions of the university's football program. Capitalizing on the new stadium's location, there was a unique opportunity to showcase the Baylor brand to the 43 million individuals passing by the site annually. Our planning team initiated the concept of 'sailgating' by creating a lagoon around the stadium. Complemented by an outdoor amphitheater and a scenic walking path, the design encourages visitors to relish the environment throughout the year. The stadium's thoughtfully crafted site design seamlessly connects the campus and downtown Waco, serving as a significant economic driver for both areas. Internally, the stadium boasts various premium options for the comfort of discerning fans, complete with a striking canopy to shield spectators from the Texas sun. It's within this stadium that the Baylor Line finds its rightful place, contributing to the creation of a formidable home field advantage.

Buro Happold engineered the stadium's superstructure, long span roof, and foundation systems, employing advanced computer modeling to achieve a high-performance design within strict budget constraints. Addressing the challenging climate, we designed a roof to provide optimal shade before and during sporting events. The innovative asymmetric design, utilizing lightweight materials, underwent thorough analysis to ensure resilience against local wind loads. Through parametric modeling, we fine-tuned the size of the roof trusses, incorporating the fabricator's shipping and on-site erection requirements into our construction approach. Collaborating closely with the contractor, our team established the most efficient superstructure for the stadium. Leveraging Building Information Modeling (BIM), we aligned design aspirations with budgetary considerations. The resulting model guided our selection of materials and the construction sequence, leading to streamlined and cost-effective engineering solutions.

IMPACT: Ever since McLane Stadium welcomed its first visitors in the autumn of 2014, downtown Waco has experienced a resurgence, witnessing increased development along the Brazos Riverfront. Applications and donations have seen an uptick, and the Bears now boast a cherished new home. The stadium has become a unifying force, reconnecting a region, a city, and a campus through the rich traditions, culture, and passion of Baylor's football program. The collaborative efforts with the extensive design team throughout the project's duration allowed us to bring to fruition a remarkable new stadium destined to serve the university and community for generations.