The Texas Tech University Sports Performance Center: Resilient and Secure Structural Design in Resisting EF3 and EF4 Tornadoes

Open Access
Broniszewski, Alec Jeffrey
Area of Honors:
Architectural Engineering
Bachelor of Architectural Engineering
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • M. Kevin Parfitt, Thesis Supervisor
  • Richard Mistrick, Honors Advisor
  • Tornado Design
  • Coplanar Trusses
  • Long Span Structure
  • Tornado Safe Room
  • EF3 Tornado
  • EF4 Tornado
  • Impact-Resistance
The Texas Tech University Sports Performance Center, located in Lubbock, Texas, comprises a 200m competition indoor track and an 80-yard football practice field. The Performance Center is located adjacent to the Jones AT&T Stadium in the northern corner of the Texas Tech University campus. The Sports Performance Center embodies Texas Tech traditions while serving as an investment towards the future of the university’s athletic programs. As part of unique design challenges to exemplify resiliency in design, the entire Sports Performance Center was designed to withstand an EF3 tornado, while integrating a tornado safe room into the program that was designed to withstand an EF4 tornado. The entire structure of the Sports Performance Center was designed for amplified wind loading based on conservative measures and factors supported by tornado design codes alongside testing and research done for tornado design of buildings. Long span coplanar roof trusses were designed and geometrically optimized to stably respond to significant wind vertical and horizontal roof pressures. A reinforced concrete tornado safe room was integrated into the Sports Performance Center, which is designed to withstand an EF4 tornado and protect the lives of all building occupants. Drilled belled piers are socketed into the ground at the depth of the most suitable soil in order to resist foundation uplift, while grade beams stabilize the drilled belled piers. The entire building envelope is impact-resistant against wind-borne missiles generated during an EF3 or EF4 tornado. The roof of the Sports Performance Center is FM-Approved for a wind uplift pressure up to 180 psf, which mitigates the risk of roof tear off. All glazing was designed to be fully tempered and laminated in order to mitigate the risk of a structural breach and to protect against wind-borne missiles. Altogether, the comprehensive structural design of the Sports Performance Center effectively responds to unique design criteria related to EF3 and EF4 tornado events, and exemplifies resiliency in design and performance.